Port Arthur updates progress on 6-year road repair plan; city council responds

Published 12:40 am Thursday, September 8, 2022

As city officials continue work on a six-year capital improvement project involving street repair, the question has arisen of whether or not one particular road should be removed from the list.

Procter Street Extension, which runs from Main Avenue to Texas 73, was included in District Two repairs.

“The trouble with the Procter Street extension is that trucks are starting to use this from the Port of Port Arthur running west and east,” City Engineer John Cannatella told city officials during a recent council meeting. “I have told the Port, I have expressed the problem with this, is that Procter Street was not intended as a truck route. Basically what I can tell is that because of the construction on Highway 73, they’re starting to use this as a direct route to the Port.”

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Cannatella’s recommendation to reconsider work on the Procter Street Extension came during a presentation on where the city was regarding 2022 street repairs.

The engineer last approached council with an update in April, and said since “we’ve been diligently trying to whittle away at these projects.”

The project, which began in 2019, allocated $62,624,295 for street repair.

Current fiscal year projects completed as of July 1, according to Cannatella’s report, accumulate to 15 in District One, eight in District Two, two in District Three and 37 in District Four.

To date, just more than $22 million has been spent with $15 million left in unallocated funds.

But with time and inflation, the cost of repairs has almost doubled since first budgeted in 2018, Cannatella said.

District Two repairs were $2.25 million more than anticipated, while District Three repairs were $4.2 million higher.

City Manager Ron Burton said, despite increased costs, funding is not the problem.

“The funding is available,” he said. “What we have had in the past is a method of allocation where, each district based on the streets that were identified, there was a method of allocation that was assigned.”

Repairs were split into two categories — rehabilitation and reconstruction.

“When we went out earlier in the game, we found out…we had never factored in the utilities factor of those streets,” Burton said. “So when we got there, we found out that we had (spent) in some districts…the price for total reconstruction had doubled in some areas. And so it left some districts at a disadvantage. In spite of that we still have to undertake the project.

“Now that we are moving with momentum, we have completed — as I promised you in January — we have completed over 40 streets just in house. We have kept the cost of construction down by doing it.”

Several council members voiced frustration over the roads still in need of repair.

“We’ve gone through this with trash and this and that,” said Councilman Cal Jones. “We kick the ball down the road and get nothing done. We keep beating a dead horse as our concern as council. This council here wants to move forward; I’m telling you now. Whatever it takes, let’s get this stuff done.”

Councilman Kenneth Marks referred mostly to the Montrose area in Port Acres, recalling how pleased the residents were when Texas Avenue was fixed.

“But they’re ready for Wilson and other streets,” he said.

Wilson Avenue is heavily used to reach FM 365, which is important during hurricane season.

“We know how they flood out there,” he said.

Following the discussion, council passed a resolution allowing the city to enter into a contract with Beaumont-based Gulf Coasts for continued road repair.