Port Aransas City Council members will consider at least three different options for large-scale improvements to 11th Street when they gather in a special meeting scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 3, according to Mayor Keith McMullin.
The meeting begins at 9 a.m. at council chambers, 710 W. Avenue A.
To finance improvements, the council expects to put a proposed bond issue before voters in the May 14 city elections. McMullin said the council might reach a decision at the Feb. 3 meeting on what kind of package to put before voters.
All of the options on the table right now would require a tax increase. As is often the case with a roadwork proposal, the least expensive option won’t sting so much, tax-wise. But it also won’t improve 11th Street as extensively or accommodate future growth as much.
Eleventh Street is heavily traveled, and it’s a bumpy road with only two lanes and no curbs, gutters, underground drainage, sidewalks or bicycle paths throughout most of the length of the major thoroughfare. The road is nearly two miles long, running alongside dozens of homes, condominiums and apartments.
“It’s in sad shape, and it needs to be fixed,” Councilman Charles Bujan said when the matter was being discussed at a Jan. 20 council meeting.
“There’s no question 11th Street needs to be fixed,” McMullin said. The key, he added, is “to give Port Aransas residents the best job we can get for the least amount of money.”
One Port Aransas resident spoke about 11th Street during the meeting. Nita Shaver, who lives in a condominium on the street, said many pedestrians walk the street, and their needs should be kept in mind as city leaders plan improvements.
“I just really think you need to think safety,” Shaver said. “Safety, safety, safety.”
The least expensive improvement option currently being considered by the council would mean an approximately $2 million project. Along the stretch of 11th Street from Royal Palm Lane to Beach Access Road 1A, it would mean ripping out the old road completely and putting in a new base. It would mean new asphalt from Avenue J to Beach Access Road 1A.
That option also would mean adding an eight-foot-wide asphalt hike and bike trail throughout the full length of the street, but it would mean installing no underground drainage. It also would mean no gas or water line work, McMullin said.
Unveiled by city staff on Wednesday, Jan. 26, the $2 million option was so new that the city’s finance department hadn’t yet had a chance to figure out how much of a tax increase the package would require, said Finance Director Darla Honea. But McMullin estimated that it would mean that the average Port Aransas homeowner would see $25 to $30 added to his tax bill.
The other two options for 11th Street do a lot more to plan for future growth, McMullin said.
One of those options would be a $5.5 million project with a full rebuild of the street from Avenue J to Royal Palm Lane, which includes some of the most densely populated parts of the thoroughfare. It also would mean inserting a center turn lane in that stretch.
This option also would involve installing underground drainage on the north end of 11th Street and building a concrete hike-and-bike path along one side of the street and a sidewalk along the other side, from Avenue J to Royal Palm Lane.
The section of 11th from Royal Palm to Access Road 1A would get a new road base and new asphalt but no underground drainage and no center turn lane. It would get an asphalt bike path.
Gas and water line improvements also would be associated with this option, McMullin said.
The city’s current property tax rate is 33.2023 cents per $100 valuation. The $5.5 million project normally would mean an estimated 4.15-cent tax increase, Honea said. However, the projected increase actually is expected to be lower, at 3.4 cents, because revenues from roadway impact fees would be used to help fund the work, Honea said.
Assessed on developers, the roadway impact fee was created by the council in 2008 specifically to help pay for eventual work on 11th Street, State Hwy. 361 and Beach Access Road B – a planned road that would run from Hwy. 361 to the beach, just south of the Cinnamon Shore development, Parsons said.
As of Monday, Jan. 24, the city had accumulated $175,928 from impact fees since the city began assessing the fee in April 2009, Honea said.
Developers are assessed the fee at varying amounts based on the square footage of a planned structure or how many dwelling units are planned, said Deputy City Manager Dave Parsons.
The average value of a Port Aransas home, with a homestead exemption, is $199,471, Honea said. With a 3.4-cent tax increase, she said, that property owner would pay about $67 more than he is paying now, she said. But that amount likely would be spread out over the course of two years, with the bill going up approximately $30 the first year and another $37 the next year, she said.
The third option that council is considering would be the deluxe package: A $6.9 million project that would mean a complete rebuild of the full length of the street, with center turn lanes inserted and underground drainage installed from Avenue J to Access Road 1A. It would involve construction of a concrete hike and bike path on one side of the street and a sidewalk on the other.
This option also would mean water and gas line work.
City officials didn’t have numbers ready yet to show how the $6.9 million option would affect taxes.
City officials have emphasized that nothing involved in the 11th Street proposals are set in stone yet. The options presented to the council by staff merely are starting points from which a specific proposal for voters could be produced. The package that eventually is presented to voters could end up being a hybrid of one of the stated options.
City staff cost estimates for 11th Street improvement options were higher than the council expected when the options were presented at the meeting Jan. 20.
City Engineer Jim Urban said the estimates had increased because construction firms were getting busier than they were previously, and because oil prices had risen.
However, by Wednesday, staff had come up with new estimates that were lower. (Those are the estimates included in this story.)
McMullin said the lower numbers came because Urban had studied the issue more closely, “drilling deeper into all of the components that go into the project.”
Also, McMullin said, Urban’s engineers previously had provided worst-case scenario numbers.
To get a concept ready in time for the May 14 election, the council has until March 14 to make a decision on a detailed bond package, with specifics on what kind of work would be done on what parts of the street, how much it would cost and how much taxes would go up to pay for the project, said City Manager Robert Bradshaw.
McMullin said he believes the council won’t drop the entire issue and will end up presenting voters with some sort of proposal to make 11th Street a better thoroughfare.