— By BRIAN SMITH
A busy 2012 in the area of street and capital improvements will continue into 2013, city officials say.
Director of Capital Transportation Projects Terry Hughes said one of the major projects in the new year will be the completion of a comprehensive Transportation Plan expected to take the city into the next 10 or 20 years. Public meetings will be held to discuss the plan and get input, Hughes said.
“It should be an interesting deal,” Hughes said.
Work will continue on the South Main Street project, which began in February with the east side of the highway. The project has been shut down for the holidays, Hughes said, but is expected to crank back up next week.
“We’ve had some issues with the weather that we didn’t forsee,” Hughes said. “We’re going to be moving to the other (west) side probably sometime between the 15th and 20th of January.”
Work on that side will also take about 10 months.
“We’re hoping to be completed with everything before the holidays next year,” Hughes said.
While work on South Main continues, work on the frontage roads between Bowie and Bethel Roads is expected to commence in March. Hughes said environmental work is underway now with plans and bidding on the project to follow.
The construction should take about a year and be much less intrusive than the South Main project, Hughes said. Another change to start 2013 will be the implementation of the Storm Water Utility System. Council members agreed to the plan, which assesses a $3 monthly fee for homeowners based on the impervious area of their residence, in October. Impervious area is defined as the area of a home or business that water can’t penetrate, such as parking lots, roofs or driveways.
The plan is expected to raise $800,000 from home and business owners in the first year, which will go toward the estimated $7 million to $10 million in drainage projects the city has, Hughes said. A mailer explaining the program will go out to all residents in January with the fee assessed as part of the regular utility bills beginning in February.
Director of Public Works Manny Palacios said his department will be looking at the results of the pavement management plan, which council members approved last month. The city hired an outside firm to conduct a survey of all the city’s streets, which is expected to begin in February and last about two weeks, Palacios said.
Once the survey is complete, city officials will have a better idea as to what shape its roads are in and be able to devise a plan to fix them.
A number of street rehabilitation projects are on the books for 2013 including South Rusk Street between Eureka and Lee, South Alamo Street between Russell and Josephine and Merrimac Drive between Spring and Vine.