Winston-Salem releases bond project list for street repaving and sidewalks

Winston-Salem stock photo (Wikipedia)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Winston-Salem City Council is poised to endorse a list of roads for repaving and sidewalks for extending as it moves forward toward a November bond referendum on the improvements, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

Some major stretches of roadway are slated for repaving if the transportation bond issue passes, including Bethabara Park Boulevard, North Peace Haven Road, North Patterson Avenue, East Sprague Street and Burke Mill Road.

Those are the five most expensive repaving jobs on the list. The entire list contains all or part of almost 200 streets.

Assistant City Manager Greg Turner said the list was developed by looking at pavement-condition ratings for all the city-maintained streets, although that wasn’t the only factor in play.

“The pavement-condition rating is a measure of how bad the pavement is on the roads in each ward,” Turner said. “We gave each council member a list of the ones that were worst.”

Turner said that council members weighed in with some changes to the list in their wards, and that staffers also didn’t strictly adhere to the rating list because they wanted to spread the repairs more or less evenly around, and because it sometimes makes sense to go ahead and repave a street when it doesn’t have one of the lowest scores but is right beside another street that is getting repaved.

For the list of sidewalk projects, Turner said, the city used a grading system that evaluates how badly a sidewalk is needed or how much it is likely to be used. As with the road repaving list, the list of sidewalk projects was filtered through council members representing particular wards.

Generally, Turner said, council members didn’t make a lot of changes in the staff list.

Spending for repaving by ward is more or less balanced: With about $15 million in total repaving money on the list, an even split would give each ward $1.878 million in road-resurfacing money.

In fact, the amount of spending per ward varies by no more than 5 percent from that average, with the South Ward highest at $1.966 million and the Northeast Ward lowest at $1.796 million.

On Nov. 4, voters will approve or deny the city’s proposal to issue bonds totaling $42.35 million, including $15 million to repave roads and $10 million for new sidewalks. The transportation package also includes $5.6 million to widen Meadowlark Drive, $1 million for improvements to the Business 40 corridor, $1 million for greenways and other projects.

The transportation bonds are only one of five issues that voters will be deciding that day. Other bond packages up for a vote are public safety ($31 million), parks and recreation ($30.85 million), economic development ($25 million) and housing ($10 million).

The lists of street and sidewalk projects were presented to the city council’s public works committee earlier this week and approved unanimously for action by the full city council Monday night.

Council Member Dan Besse, who chairs the committee, said that the passage of the lists won’t mean that items can’t change later on if it turns out that an unlisted project better deserves the money.

“It is a ‘Here is what we propose to do with the money’ kind of thing,” Besse said. “During the discussion, the point was explicitly made that these are subject to change in response to public comment and input.”

Besse said that as he looks over the list of sidewalk projects for his Southwest Ward, he wants to get more neighborhood input on some items before a decision is final.

“There are some that need to be done that I am prepared to fight for,” he said. “There are some others that are right on the edge. I will be pointing to these and saying, ‘Folks on this street, do you think the sidewalks are needed here? Do you want to make a pitch for elevating your project?’ There are a lot more factors than just the raw point totals. You have to make a judgment call in terms of the neighborhood’s relative needs.”

With $10 million in sidewalk money to spread around eight wards, that leaves each ward with about $1.25 million. The projects listed for two wards don’t match that amount: In the East Ward, only about $409,000 has been designated because other projects have yet to be listed; in the Northeast Ward, the projects total about $1.5 million because more projects were listed than can be paid for.

Because some of the sidewalk projects can qualify for federal financing, the city is getting a lot of leverage out of its proposed $10 million in sidewalk spending. In addition to the $10 million, federal taxpayer dollars would pay for another $25 million in sidewalk work.

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