What’s it all about?
Editor’s note: Port Aransas voters will go to the polls May 14 to decide whether to approve a proposed $6.4 million bond package to pay for extensive road improvements along nearly two miles of 11th Street, one of the city’s main arteries, from Avenue G to Beach Access Road 1A. The work is intended to provide a smooth driving surface, reduce congestion by inserting a center turn lane, prepare for future growth and increase safety by providing a sidewalk and hike-and-bike trail. If the bond passes, taxes would go up to pay for the project. The city’s tax rate is 33.2023 cents per $100 valuation. If voters approve the bond, it will mean a tax increase of 4.137 cents, which would add about $82.52 to the average homeowner’s tax bill. In this story, City Engineer Jim Urban explains some of the ins and outs of the construction effort that would take place if the bond passes.
Jim Urban: Construction will stretch from Avenue G to Beach Access Road 1A. The old road will be completely ripped out, and a new base and asphalt will be put down. The road is two lanes wide now, but after the project is over, it will have a center turn lane. A sidewalk will be built on one side of the road, and a hike-and-bike trail will be built on the other side. A relatively small stretch between Avenue G and Avenue J already is wide and includes sidewalks, so that section of the road won’t see so much work.
S.J.: Can you tell us more about plans for the sidewalk and hike-and-bike trail?
Urban: Aside from that short section between Avenue G and Avenue J, sidewalks don’t really exist throughout vast majority of 11th Street. On the west side of the street, this project will result in construction of a four-foot-wide concrete sidewalk from Avenue G to Access Road 1A. On the east side, an eight-foot-wide concrete hike-and-bike trail will be built. It will be a major, major pedestrian pathway improvement. I can’t think of another eight-foot-wide concrete hike-and-bike trail in town.
S.J.: How well will expanding the road to three lanes throughout its nearly-twomile length prepare Port Aransas for future growth?
Urban: The city’s long-term plan for streets designates certain streets as (main arteries) and others as residential streets. Eleventh Street, without a doubt, is a collector street. Rebuilding it to three lanes is what the master transportation plan envisions. Alister Street was two lanes wide when I first got here, in the mid-1980s, and now it’s got a center turn lane.
S.J.: Will drainage work be done, along with the roadwork?
Urban: You’ll see underground storm sewer, to a large extent, from Beach Access Road 1A almost to Avenue J. There are no curbs or gutters in that area now, but you’ll see them put in throughout the length of that part of the street during this project. Curbs in the past have been four inches high, but the ones built on 11th Street will be six inches high. And, instead of being rounded off, they’ll have blunt corners. The change in height and shape is a safety measure to prevent vehicles from jumping curbs. The same kind of curb can be seen on Oleander Street, which just got an overhaul a few years ago.
S.J.: How much better will drainage be when the project is finished?
Urban: Drainage capacity will probably be four orders of magnitude more than what we have out there now. We’ll install concrete pipes to provide underground drainage. The open drainage ditches that are there now will be filled in.
S.J.: Will utility work be done along with the roadwork?
Urban: Yes. While the road is torn up, workers will take the opportunity to install new gas and water lines in the ground.
S.J.: Will that work be paid for by the bond?
Urban: The gas line work will be financed by the bond, but the water line work will be paid for separately, by Nueces County Water Control and Improvement District No. 4.
S.J.: If voters approve the bond, when will construction take place?
Urban: After preparatory work, the job could begin in late 2011 or early 2012. I think it would take about nine months to complete, unless we have unusual weather delays.
S. J.: How much inconvenience can residents and guests expect during the construction period?
Urban: This kind of construction has several cycles. The first cycle is relocating utilities and getting things out of the way. You’ll still be able to drive, but there will be spot inconveniences. There might be a sign saying this area will be shut down part of the day, you have to go around it. The first four or five months, the work will involve relocating utilities, and the road will get worse during that period, but they’ll have to maintain it so it’s passable every night. People can expect periodically to not be able to get out of their driveway for a few hours at a time. It should be fixed at night, but when they’re putting in curbs and gutters and pouring concrete (at the entrance to) your driveway, you may not be able to use that driveway for 24 hours.
S.J.: What will workers do to reduce inconvenience?
Urban: At condominiums and other businesses, temporary driveways will be built to go around driveways that are being worked on. Workers also will warn residents ahead of time when there will be interruptions in water or gas service and when driveways will be blocked.
S.J.: Do we know yet what company will do the work?
Urban: No. If the bond is approved, the city then will advertise for firms to bid on the project.
Questions? Comments? Contact Dan Parker at (361) 749-5131 or email@example.com.