Archive for Monday, May 25, 2015

Street Improvement Task force narrows priorities

The Street Improvement Program task force met for the first time Thursday at the Shawnee Civic Centre.

The Street Improvement Program task force met for the first time Thursday at the Shawnee Civic Centre.

May 25, 2015

— The Shawnee Street Improvement Task Force is narrowing its list of priorities.

The task force, made up of 12 Shawnee residents, is assigned the job of creating a set of criteria for the city to use when choosing which four miles of residential roads to fix.

The task force is creating a guide over the next couple of months for the city and City Council to use when selecting the four miles of residential streets to repair with $9.7 million in sales tax revenue over the next 10 years.

The money comes from a one-eighth-cent sales tax dedicated to the street improvement program. Another two-eighths of a cent of sales tax will be spent on mill and overlay road resurfacing projects chosen by the city and worth more than $25 million over the next 10 years.

City taxpayers approved the three-eighths-cent tax in November 2014.

The task force has decided that traffic volume; houses per lane mile; roads closer to schools, parks, existing sidewalks and collector streets; and a street's rating by the city are the top criteria in selecting which residential streets should be fixed first. They also decided a street's width should weigh into the decision.

In creating the guide, the task force has assigned weight to each category. Out of 100 points, each category's importance to the task force is determined by how many points it gets in the weighting system.

The street's rating, which the city determines using a scale from 1 to 10, was given a weight of 20 points. However, the task force came to the agreement during their discussion last week that they would give less weight to roads rated poor, or a 1 to 3, because those roads need to be completely rebuilt and resurfacing them would not be a smart investment. Matt Laipple said resurfacing those street would be like putting a bandage over an already structurally failing road, and the quality of the repair would not last.

The street's traffic volume was given 15 points. A street's distance from a school was given 10 points, the distance from a park was given 10 points, the distance from a residential collector street that likely already has a sidewalk was given 10 points and the distance to any existing sidewalk was given 10 points. The street's width, which some members of the task force raised concerns about width street parking restricting traffic flow, was given a weight of 10 points as well.

The task force is determining these criteria only for residential streets that currently don't have curbs or sidewalks. Once the streets to be reconstructed are determined by the City Council at a later date, those roads would receive a new surface, curb, gutters, and sidewalk.

"The council will be making these decisions," said task force member Tanner Banion. "But this system needs to get them 80 or 90 percent there."

By the time the task force meets again in June, city staff will have applied their scale to the residential streets of Shawnee and the task force will be able to see what types of recommendations their system came up with. At that point, they can adjust the scale if they think it is necessary.

In determining the criteria and each categories importance, the task force also debated the philosophy with which they should create the guidelines.

The task force members voiced their opinions as to whether they should create a system that favors broad impact across the city or concentrated impact in a specific area.

Seven of the members said they preferred broad impact while four said they preferred focusing on one area and getting it completely updated. One member was undecided. The group has acknowledged several times that while a concentrated approach would address one small area with a high impact, it risks making the rest of the city feel excluded. The group has also acknowledged that taking a broad approach and spreading out the impact across the city in smaller projects risks spreading it out so much that residents don't notice the projects.

Over the next two months, the task force will meet at the Shawnee Civic Centre to iron out the criteria to present to the City Council in July. The next meeting is scheduled for June 18.

The projects resulting from the task force recommendations likely won't begin until late 2016 or 2017.

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