City wants to hit the streets
“Helping people with potholes” might be an apt campaign slogan for a transportation tax proposal that could go before Glenwood Springs voters this fall.”Helping people with potholes” might be an apt campaign slogan for a transportation tax proposal that could go before Glenwood Springs voters this fall.City staff members are recommending that voters again be asked to approve a 0.5 percent sales tax for transportation, and that street maintenance be made the top funding priority for the tax.Voters narrowly rejected a tax proposal for the same amount last fall, even as they approved a measure that would have let the city issue bonds to borrow against the income of the tax had it been approved.An existing, 0.25 percent transportation tax that will expire at the end of this year provides almost all of the funding for maintaining and reconstructing city streets.Last fall’s measure would have preserved funding for street maintenance, and also funded a south bridge over the Roaring Fork River, an Eighth Street connection to Midland Avenue from downtown, and planning, design, land acquisition and construction of projects leading to the relocation of Highway 82. In a memo to City Council, city manager Jeff Hecksel, city engineer Larry Thompson and public works director Robin Millyard recommend spending the new tax partly on the Eighth Street project. They view that project as essential to improving traffic flow once the Glenwood Meadows commercial development opens this fall.However, the three called for no funding for the south bridge project, which is expected to cost $12 million. That project would extend Midland Avenue and provide a new southern access route to and from town.Staff members also suggest that the city dip into existing, unappropriated funds to spend $125,000 on a corridor optimization study for relocating Highway 82. The Colorado Department of Transportation recently suggested such a study as a precursor to an environmental impact study on the project.Last fall’s measure would have included $3 million for an EIS, but that study isn’t expected to be necessary for five to 10 years.The 0.5 percent tax would raise about $1.46 million per year. Staff is recommending that:• $256,000 of that go toward paying off existing debt for property acquisition along the Roaring Fork River rail corridor for possible Highway 82 expansion;• $325,000 go for basic street maintenance;• $455,500 be used for expanded street maintenance, and;• $423,500 pay for the annual debt service on the $3.5 million cost of the Eighth Street project.City staff estimated that Glenwood Springs faces $8.9 million in road reconstruction costs. Staff members would like to see these roads rebuilt within the next 15 years.They added in their memo, “By properly maintaining the city’s streets, the city will be able to extend the useful life of the city’s existing streets with less investment than it would take to defer maintenance and reconstruct those same streets.”City Council is scheduled to consider the city staff recommendations tonight.The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association hopes to see the city put a transportation tax back on the ballot. Chamber executive director Marianne Virgili recently wrote to council that the Chamber is delighted that council made passage of the tax its top goal for this year.She said the Chamber board and its Community on the Move committee, which has worked on past city tax issues, identified several possible reasons that the last tax failed. They include: A lack of understanding by voters because of so many other issues on the ballot and the fact that they had to consider both a transportation tax and bond. Failure to engage the media in a campaign to educate voters. Voters’ desire for more innovative traffic-calming measures and solutions. Voter confusion about traffic/transit decisions made during the election, the Grand Avenue Paving Project now under construction, and how they relate to the city’s total traffic picture.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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