Road Work Ahead – June 14, 2012
ARCATA – City of Arcata Public Works has completed and is currently planning several roadwork and improvement projects, funded wholly by funds from Measure G.
Measure G, also known as the Sales and Use Tax, was passed in the November 2008 General Election and added three quarters of a percent in sales taxes to all taxable goods in Arcata. The eight percent tax rate has been estimated to generate $1.2 to 1.5 million a year. The City had decided that a third of the generated funds would go to police and public safety and the remaining two thirds would be directed towards public works projects.
“It’s absolutely key to the City’s public safety and the public works department,” Public Works Deputy Director Morgan Kessler said of Measure G.
Since the tax addition’s initiation on April 1, 2009, Public Works has been able to complete several road improvement projects that otherwise would not be feasible.
“Before Measure G, we had a paving budget of, on a good year, about $350,000. Now it’s consistently $850,000,” Kessler said. “Yeah, we’ve been doing great projects with it in the last few years.”
The majority of the public works funds are directed towards an annual resurfacing project. Every year, $600,000 is allocated to a Pavement Maintenance program, a plan to resurface and improve a set amount of streets for that year. The remaining funds are specifically for trails, alternative transportation, and traffic calming, with five percent of the budget dedicated to each.
For instance, this year, public works has implemented various sidewalk enhancements, placed bollards and wheelchair ramps, and a constructed a brand new sidewalk by Larson Park.
“We did some polling and that’s really what people wanted – for this funding to not be used just for turning the streets black with asphalt,” Kessler said. “They also wanted to see other projects that we basically had to do with alternative transportation: bicycle and pedestrian improvements, improvements to sidewalks, and Americans With Disability Act enhancements. Things like that.”
Public Works is also undertaking a larger scale plan called the Arcata Rails and Trails project, which is a ten-foot wide bicycle and pedestrian pathway that stretches from the Skate Park in Arcata to Braecut on Highway 101, utilizing the existing railroad right of way.
Earlier this year, Public Works applied for a federal Transportation Enhancement Act Grant, which allowed them to leverage $250,000 of funds from Measure G to acquire $1 million in federal funding.
“The federal government pays the majority of it but we have to provide match and having these Measure G funds available makes it really convenient to leverage $250,000 to basically get a million dollar project,” Kessler said.
The entire Rails and Trails project totals about $5 million. Much of the expense comes from the construction of pedestrian bridges. In 2013, City of Arcata expects to initiate the project with the acquired $1 million, constructing the multiuse pathway from the Sunset Avenue Skate Park to Samoa Boulevard.
Currently, funds are being directed towards the repaving of several roads, which include Janes Road by St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Mack Road, G Street between Ninth and 10th streets and 10th between F and H streets.
A major project starting next week is the resurfacing of the block around the Arcata Co-op.
Bayside Cutoff from Old Arcata Road to the 101 Freeway, which was diagnosed by Public Works’ pavement rating software as being the worst road in Arcata, is also being repaved.
“Our thanks go out to the voters of the City of Arcata to pass this measure,” Kessler said. “It’s just night and day from before the measure passed. We’re able to staff our street maintenance crew. We’re able to do in-house engineering to save money and we’re able to do some larger scale projects and get some real improvements in Arcata.”
A listing of Public Works projects can be found on the City of Arcata website, cityofarcata.org.