Cedar Rapids tabs ambitious street-repair plan as 'Paving for Progress'

Three street rehabilitation projects to be the first funded by tax option

Rick Smith
Published: February 24 2014 | 4:09 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 4:06 am in

CEDAR RAPIDS — Government initiatives with tall ambition and big promises need worthy names to go with them.

So it is with the city’s new Paving for Progress program.

Paving for Progress is the outsized moniker that City Hall has come up with to refer to its new street-repair effort, which is being fueled by some $180 million over 10 years in revenue from the renewal of the city’s 1-perecent local-option sales tax. Voters overwhelming approved the renewal in November.

Mayor Ron Corbett on Monday said the new program name is designed to let the city move away from the local-option sales tax or LOST acronym so the program can focus on what the tax revenue is being used to accomplish.

Residents, he said, also have asked City Hall to effectively communicate which streets the LOST-funded program is fixing and plans to fix and when.

"So we’re responding," Corbett said.

The Paving for Progress name is appearing on the City Council’s meeting agenda for the first time this week, and in so doing, spells out three of the very first street rehabilitation projects that the city’s program will embark on this year, Doug Wilson, the city’s capital improvement project manager, said on Monday.

The three are Fourth Avenue SE from Sixth Street to 19th Street SE; 19th Street SE, sections of Bever Avenue SE and Garden Drive SE; and Diagonal Drive SW from Interstate 380 to the west side of the Eighth Avenue bridge.

In each instance, the City Council is slated to hire an engineering firm to design the project. All three projects consist of pavement repair/overlay, curb repairs and upgrades to sidewalk handicap ramp s. The Fourth Avenue SE project also will convert this section of Fourth Avenue SE from one-way to two-way traffic.

Wilson said these three street rehabilitation projects will be first ones supported by revenue that will come in this year from the local-option sales tax.

However, the very first street-repair project supported by LOST revenue will be on Oakland Road NE from E Avenue NE to H Avenue NE. Bids on actual construction work will be opened in the next few weeks, he said.

Two weeks ago, the City Council dipped its toes into the 10-year LOST-funded program by approving a $307,074 contract for curb repairs across the city in anticipation of other street rehabilitation projects to come.

Corbett said the city is going to be able to forego the sale of bond debt for street repairs this spring because of the first LOST dollars to fix streets will arrive in the city after July 1.

"We want to get out to a good start," the mayor said. "We want to continue to build confidence in the community that the city can take care of business and take care of our streets."

Maria Johnson, the city’s Communications Division manager, credited the city’s communications team on Monday with coming up with the street-program name Paving for Progress.

"Paving for Progress came to the top pretty quickly," Johnson said.

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