Port Arthur approves $14M for street remediation, reconstruction

Published 12:30 pm Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Funding for the improvement of Port Arthur’s streets will be allocated in proportion to the needs of each district.

The city will foot the bill for $10 million for reconstruction of its roads and $4 million for remediation of roads, according to budget proposals presented to the council in December.

Following Tuesday’s city council meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Harold Doucet said the proportional funding, which was approved 5-0 (at-large Councilwoman Kaprina Frank was absent), allows Port Arthur to move forward “at one time.”

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“It was a consensus,” Doucet said. “No questions. Everybody’s happy.”

That was not entirely the case when engineers from the city’s public works department proposed a proportional funding plan to the council Dec. 17.

District 2 Councilman Cal Jones and District 3 Councilman Thomas Kinlaw III said then that funding for street work should be divided equally.

But information related to the streets’ needs gave Jones a change of heart.

“After we discussed it in our last meeting, we looked at the parts that had the biggest need,” he said. “In those kinds of situations, you have winners and losers. District 4 has the bulk of the bad streets. So, I personally have no problem with the way the money is divided. There’s an old saying, let the chips fall where they may. District 4 has the widest population.”

The budget calls for District 4, which Doucet represents, to receive $4,696,000 toward reconstruction of its roads. That’s 46.96 percent of the $10 million allocated for reconstruction across the city.

District 3 is to receive the least amount of reconstruction money, $1,342,000 (13.42 percent). District 2 is appropriated $1,647,000 (16.47 percent), and District 1 will receive $2,315,000 (23.15 percent).

The allocation percentages for the $4 million in remediation are similar, except that District 2 will receive 20.45 percent ($818,000), slightly higher than District 1 (18.93 percent or $757,200).

City Manager Ron Burton believes citizens will begin seeing results of the street work within 60 to 90 days.

“I think the council has set the agenda for us to go to work, which we have been,” Burton said. “We have a list of streets for each district for remediation and reconstruction. I think what we need to do right now is get with the council and look at each district and the amounts that have been allocated per district and get some work done within the next 60 to 90 days. That’s what we need to do, pick the low-hanging fruit and get some work done so we can improve accessibility and drivability on our streets.

“We will get the process going, as from today.”

Doucet hopes ongoing “X-ray” van analysis will help Port Arthur obtain more funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for roads that were damaged by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

“We’re trying to tell them that we should have received some of the money for certain streets, and they said no,” Doucet said. “Part of their requirements is a detailed list. Hopefully we go back and receive additional funding.”

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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