Pricey street repairs slated for summer
Published 7:54 am Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Several areas of Austin, including residential and commercial districts, will be in for a hectic summer of street repairs.
“A lot of what we’re doing is not just the surface,” said Steven Lang, Austin’s assistant engineer.
Although many of the streets and sidewalks look tattered on the surface, the damages go deeper than that, city officials said at a public meeting Tuesday night. Photos show many of Austin’s sewers, built in the 1920s, have crumbled and squatted, and many manhole covers have begun to recess into the pavement, as well.
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Almost all of Austin’s proposed projects include similar repairs, such as new asphalt, wider streets and sidewalks, new curbs and gutters, sanitary sewer systems and the installation of new drainage tile. About a dozen locations throughout town will undergo those surgeries.
Some projects, such as a stretch of Main Street, could begin as soon as May 1, with many others following throughout the summer.
The biggest concern among the public is the inconvenience it will face during the projects. During the reconstructions, streets will be dirt roads and residents won’t be able to park on them — in some cases for more than two months.
Residents and merchants were also concerned about their ability to pay for the projects. According to the city, the cost share is like a 25, 25, 50 distribution. Residents on each side of a street under repair will pick up 25 percent of the tab; the city of Austin will pay the rest.
That means homeowners will pay $37 for every linear foot of their property that lies adjacent to any construction, along with roughly $100 for every sidewalk tile. Commercial properties will pay $53 per linear foot of property.
The city has locked everyone in the construction areas at those prices. If projected costs increase, the city will pay.
When homeowners and merchants receive bills in October, they will have several options for paying, including paying the bill in full by Oct. 31 with no added interest, or paying 50 percent of the bill by Oct. 31 with 50 percent added to taxes for 15 years at roughly 6 percent interest. Residents would also have the option of adding the bill to taxes for 15 years at 6 percent interest.Residents with certain age, income or other economic barriers may qualify for assistance or not have to pay — depending on what the city determines.
City officials say there are many benefits to the improvements, however. Other than improved travel, room and safety, they said there will be improved drainage flow, increased energy efficiency in some areas and less maintenance.
Although the city plans to begin some of the projects at different times, it hopes to have them all complete in September.
The public will once again have a chance to voice concerns at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22 at City Council Chambers.
The street projects will affect the following areas:
— 14th Avenue Northeast from Fourth Street to Eighth Street. Total cost: $700,000 paid for by a Federal Highway Grant and Municipal State Aid.
—North Main Street from Oakland Avenue to Second Avenue and from Fourth Avenue to First Drive. Total cost: $475,000 paid for by Municipal State Aid.
— Seventh Street Southwest from First Avenue to Fourth Avenue. Total cost: $225,000 paid for by assessment bonds.
— 10th Avenue Southwest from Fourth Street to 12th Street. Total cost: $475,000 paid for by assessment bonds.
— Seventh Avenue Southeast from Fourth Street to Ninth Street, Sixth Street Southeast from Sixth Avenue to Eighth Avenue and Eighth Street Southeast from Sixth Avenue to Eighth Avenue. Total cost: $575,000 paid for by assessment bonds, waste water treatment plant fund and storm water utility fund.
— 13th Avenue Southeast from Fourth Street to Fifth Street, Fifth Street Southeast from 13th Avenue to 15th Avenue and 15th Avenue Southeast from Fifth Street to Sixth Street. Total cost: $275,000 paid for by assessment bonds, waste water treatment plant fund and storm water utility fund.
— 14th Avenue Southeast from Eighth Street to the railroad. Total cost: $50,000 paid for by assessment bonds.