Council OKs six-year Transportation Improvement Plan
August 5, 2010
By Tim Pfarr
Coal Creek Parkway improvements, alternate Windtree entrance cut
The City Council approved its Transportation Improvement Plan for 2011-2016 at its July 6 regular meeting. The plan’s adoption was required by the state Department of Transportation.
The plan details the city’s upcoming transportation projects, which includes numerous ongoing projects as well as six new ones. The new projects call for the completion of a pedestrian gap near the Coal Creek YMCA, a study of 118th Avenue Southeast, and pedestrian improvements to 116th Avenue Southeast, Newcastle Way, 112th Avenue Southeast and 125th Avenue Southeast.
The existing projects include those that call for a new traffic signal to be installed at the intersection of Newcastle Way and 129th Avenue Southeast, and expansion of Southeast 84th Street.
The Pavement Management Program — which calls for repair, rehabilitation, reconstruction and maintenance of existing streets — is the city’s top priority.
The Pavement Management Program is also one of the most expensive projects, costing upward of $566,000 per year.
A portion of Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax revenue was used to fund street maintenance this year, but that money will be used to fund transportation improvements in coming years.
The cut projects
The plan also included project T-017, which called for safety and aesthetic improvements to Coal Creek Parkway north of Newcastle Way as well as enhancements to the north monument, and project T-019, which would have created a second entrance to the Windtree neighborhood. However, both projects were cut from the plan at the meeting.
The vote to remove T-017 from the plan was 5-2, with Mayor John Dulcich and Councilman Sonny Putter dissenting. The 2011 budget was to include $150,000 for design and engineering for the project, and the intent was to spend the funds and seek outside grants. However, those who voted to eliminate the project said its scope was ambiguous.
Project T-017 was ranked 12th out of 17 projects on the TIP priorities list.
The vote to remove T-019 from the plan was 6-1, with Putter dissenting. The project would have created access to Windtree off of Southeast 88th Place. The only entrance to the neighborhood is at 121st Avenue Southeast, and it serves more than 80 homes.
The city spent $9,000 on design and engineering for the project in previous years, and another $10,000 for design was included in the original 2010 budget, but the City Council slashed the funds earlier this year.
As of the July 6 meeting, no funds were allocated to the project until 2016, at which time the city has $1.6 million allocated to complete the project, making it the most expensive project aside from the Pavement Management Program.
“It’s almost a joke to have it on the 2016 TIP,” Councilman Bill Erxleben said. “Let’s just take it off the list, because it’s just not going to happen.”
“If we take it off the TIP, what we’re doing is we’re forgetting about it,” he said. “This is another issue that was precipitated by a snowstorm. The residents came to this council and asked for us to examine the possibility of a second entrance.”
Putter said the city should have tried to get a grant for the project.
Councilwoman Lisa Jensen expressed concerns about the cost of the project.
“If we don’t have any idea where the funding is coming from, it seems like a lot of money out there where there is no real plan,” she said, adding that Windtree residents have told her there is no need for another entrance.
Councilwoman Carol Simpson spoke in favor of eliminating the project, because it did not go through the Planning Commission, nor was it included in the city’s comprehensive plan.
Peggy Price, parks commissioner and the city’s contact person in Windtree, said there are mixed feelings in the neighborhood about a second entrance. She added that having a second entrance would require removal of at least a portion of May Creek Park to make way for the new road.
She said one of the strong advocates for the alternate entrance was former deputy mayor and Windtree resident Dan Hubbell.
Project T-019 was ranked 14th out of 17 projects on the TIP priorities list.