City has proven record on street maintenance projects
The business community and the city agree that maintaining city streets is a top priority. Simply put, well-maintained streets and roads and good transportation access are good for business. As I talk to chamber members about the renewal and expansion of the Street Maintenance & Construction Tax (2A), they analyze this tax in a business sense. They want to know about projects that have been completed with the current tax and if the money has been well spent.City engineer Larry Thompson reports that all the projects identified by Community on the Move and City Council when the tax was originally proposed have been accomplished or are in the works. Furthermore, all have been completed on time and on budget. How’s that for a track record?I remember working with Community on the Move on this tax issue 10 years ago. We had a trolley named “Little Lou” that operated only in the summer. Crossing from the Hot Springs Pool to Sixth Street to get to Two Rivers Park was a nightmare. The old Sunlight Bridge was the only way to reach Glenwood Park from Grand Avenue. We did not own the railroad right of way, and nobody had heard of transportation demand management. Ten years ago we did not have a dedicated funding mechanism for city streets. As we began to imagine a “better Glenwood,” we identified several projects which could be completed with a small sales tax. First off, we identified that another bridge was needed for a Highway 82 connection to South Grand. Can you imagine Glenwood without the 27th Street connection? Do you remember the rickety clash of tires on the steel of the old Sunlight Bridge? Because of the street tax, Grand Avenue traffic has another access to Glenwood Park, Four Mile Road, Sunlight Mountain Resort and Midland Avenue, and the Sunlight Bridge has been repaired and resurfaced.Do you ride your bike from town to Two Rivers, or have you ever walked through the pedestrian underpass at Sixth and Pine when going to Summer of Jazz concerts? It used to be like taking your life into your own hands. The pedestrian underpass is another project identified and built with funds generated from this tax.The importance of acquiring the railroad right of way cannot be overemphasized. Thanks to the street tax and dedicated funding, properties along the D&RGW Railroad corridor were preserved for future highway relocation (properties were financed, with tax proceeds going toward annual principal and interest payments). The 1999 State Highway 82 Relocation Alternatives Analysis was also completed with tax dollars.There are other things we take for granted that were funded with the tax, including improved transportation signage, data gathering and communication of information regarding transportation. The city also implemented mass transit and a progressive Transportation Demand Management Program to encourage the use of alternative transportation and reduce overall travel and parking demand, thereby increasing the efficiency of the existing transportation system. The last project to be completed with the current tax, the Park & Ride in West Glenwood, will soon become a reality. The city is partnering with the Roaring Fork Transit Authority on the purchase of land and construction of the park and ride lot with a 2005 completion date.Finally, and most importantly, reconstruction and resurfacing of streets throughout the city – streets in your own neighborhood – were made possible because of the street maintenance tax. Because of increased construction costs, this time the street maintenance tax has little room for luxuries or amenities; it is more about general upkeep and maintenance. If the tax does not pass, the city budget as we know it will change, and parks and recreation and youth programs will be affected. If you would like more information, contact me at the chamber for a fact sheet. Marianne Virgili is president and CEO of the chamber and a longtime member of Community on the Move.
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