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More street fixes ahead?: PA Council may move up projects for summer work

Port Arthur City Councilmembers will winnow down a list of problem streets Monday and use available funds so that city crews can fix them.

That was the upshot of an hour-long meeting at City Hall on Tuesday, as the council initiated discussion of a five-year capital projects budget for fiscal years 2020-2024.

For Tuesday’s meeting, though, the focus was on removing street projects from Fiscal Year 2020, which starts Oct. 1, and moving them up to FY 2019. That’s because city crews have run through the list of 2019 remediation projects, and want more work to keep them busy through summer.

City street crews handle simpler remediation projects; the city contracts with outside professional crews to handle more complex street reconstruction projects.

Interim City Manager Becky Underhill said the city has about $2.2 million in available funds to pay for more street work this year, including $1.7 million in funding not previously spent and $500,000 saved from this year’s projects. She suggested that might include work on eight additional streets during FY 2019, if councilmembers agree to move the projects ahead.

City Councilmembers on Monday will review a staff-compiled list of the city’s most problematic streets and councilmembers will choose the projects from the list.

Public Works Director Alberto Elefaño told councilmembers that crews will also more aggressively pursue pothole repairs this summer, and explained which pothole repair materials city crews have tested. He asked councilmembers for special equipment to cut potholes for more effective repairs, and said he would need additional materials to fix more potholes.

Councilmembers mostly just peeked at the five-year capital projects list. It will involve some $267 million in capital projects, including $70 million dedicated to fixing streets and $122 million for water utility projects. That includes a new water treatment facility.

“I’ve been waiting on this since I’ve served on council,” said Mayor Pro Tem Harold Doucet. “We cannot operate without a plan. If we stay with the plan, we can fund things and get things accomplished.”

Some councilmembers — they included District 2 Councilman Cal Jones, District 3 Councilman Thomas Kinlaw and District 7 Councilwoman Charlotte Moses — spent various portions of their day watching a pothole repair crew in order to learn about what they do on the job.

Moses said she was impressed with the crew’s dedication to their task, and said she came away from the exercise with a better understanding of what challenges the crews encounter.

 

See also: EDITORIAL — Potholes: Council, drivers demand help