PA City Council to hear from residents about streets

Published 4:25 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Everyone wants good streets to drive on.

The Port Arthur City Council took a first step in building better streets as they listened to a street capital improvement plan by Armando Gutierrez, public works director at the regular meeting of the city council on Tuesday morning. They also scheduled some community meetings to hear from the public.

After surveying streets in the city it was determined that nearly half, 48 percent, were in poor or in failed condition. Sixty five percent of these are in City Council Districts 1 and 4. Gutierrez estimated it would cost $168,000 to repair the streets addressing pavement only.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

To fix all of the streets over a 20-year time span doing 5 percent of the streets per year would cost $22 million.

Gutierrez, however, would like to use a new method of maintaining the streets.

He advocated preventive maintenance on streets so they will last longer rather than reconstructing streets. He said it would only cost the city $11 million a year with this approach and 30 years to catch up.

For $14 million a year, streets could be repaired and the best streets kept up for the next 20 years. Eighty percent of the streets in the city are asphalt. It’s more expensive to maintain concrete streets.

“Seventy-five percent of the life of an asphalt street is good if we seal it and maintain it. We can extend the life of an asphalt street,” he said.

Gutierrez estimated the worth of the street network in Port Arthur at $600 million.

He prefers using two inches of asphalt over an eight-inch base rather than the typical one and a half inch of asphalt. For concrete streets, he prefers eight inches over the typical six inches over the base.

“It will only get worse the longer we wait,” Gutierrez said.

Mayor Derrick Freeman asked Gutierrez which streets would be used for the asphalt zipper. Gutierrez said those identified as in poor condition would use the asphalt zipper.

Willie “Bae” Lewis Jr., District 5 councilman, asked when was the street inventory completed. Gutierrez said December 2016.

Lewis then asked if existing revenues or a bond issue would be used to fund the project. Gutierrez said he didn’t know and that was something the finance department would be better able to answer.

Lewis said the city could partner with Jefferson County Precinct 3 Commissioner Michael “Shane” Sinegal’s street crews to share manpower and equipment.

“We could double our efforts in two tiers at the same time,” Lewis said.

McDougal added it would be a good start if the city could pay between $10 million to $15 million a year on streets.

Lewis said the city also needs to stop maintaining streets with no houses on them.

Morris Albright III, District 3 councilman, said $14 million a year is not a realistic number and it will cost more than $20 million a year 20 years from now.

McDougal said at this stage in the process they’re at the information-sharing phase with citizens.

He added that it’s a change in philosophy to go to the newer streets first, but something he’s interested in. The plan is for council to schedule meetings over the next four weeks with citizens to give them information and to hear their concerns.

For instance, Charlotte Moses, Position 7 councilwoman, will have a community meeting from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18 at the Port Arthur Public Library, 4615 Ninth Ave. in Port Arthur.

Keith Richard, District 4 councilman, will hold his community meeting at 6 p.m. at the Port Arthur Public Library.

David Ball: 409-721-2427