January 10, 2017 10:12:14 AM
Work is well under way on a major paving project for Columbus.
Last fall, councilmen approved a $5 million bond issue to pave more than 19 miles across more than 90 streets in Columbus.
The council awarded separate contracts to Columbus-based Falcon Contracting. The project was split into separate asphalt and concrete bids to keep prices down.
Work on the project started in November, and J5 Broaddus Senior Project Manager Robyn Eastman said everything appears to be going smoothly.
"They have until May to finish the work," Eastman said. "Right now, they're 31 percent done, and they've been doing some good work."
Eastman said it's likely work will slow down at times between now and the end of February when the temperature dips. He said the asphalt doesn't produce when the temperature drops below 40 degrees because it's too cold.
Still, he noted the weather has been relatively good so far, with the exception of a cold snap that set in last week and lasted through the weekend. But Falcon is scheduling extra work later this week as temperatures are expected to rise into the 70s, he said, adding that work should accelerate as temperatures rise in the spring.
Eastman said the majority of the work will be to pave streets, either through putting down new asphalt overlay or by milling the surface and replacing it with fresh asphalt.
"We're going to be getting a little over $4.5 million of work done, and about $4 million of that is paving streets," Eastman said. "Just under $500,000 of it is sidewalk work where they're replacing sidewalks in areas of the community."
According to a work schedule, most of the work that was set for this week is in Ward 1, including 23rd Street South, Fourth Avenue South, Fifth Avenue South and other roads. Ward 1 Councilman Gene Taylor said he's happy to see the work progressing, not only in his ward, but throughout the city.
"We're trying to upgrade in most areas that haven't been upgraded in some time," he said. "Hopefully, this paving will make a big difference to all the citizens."
Mayor Robert Smith said the paving project should conclude with work along Second Avenue from the Farmer's Market to 15th Street to improve storm drainage and make what he described as sorely-needed road improvements.
The project is similar to a $5 million bond issue for paving, drainage and sidewalk improvements the council approved in June 2014. To fund that project, the city raised property taxes by 1.1 mills -- an estimated additional tax of $11 annually for a property with an assessed value of $100,000.
But the city didn't raise taxes for this. It is using sales tax growth to fund the work for the current paving project.
Smith said he feels that's a good thing for citizens.
"Most of the time, when the citizens see that you're doing improvements, the next thing they look at is 'When are my taxes going to go up,'" he said. "It's all about -- the way I look at it from the mayor's and city's standpoint -- being frugal with their money."
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