Springfield’s streetscape improvement could be moving ahead later this year.
Council members approved an engineering contract with Keck and Wood for engineering on the second phase of the city’s streetscape project. The contract covers the portion of the project to be funded through a transportation enhancement grant.
The city has a $300,000 transportation enhancement, or TE, grant. The city has a matching portion of $75,000 and is using its own money for improvements to one side of Laurel Street.
“This is federal money and has significantly more hoops to jump through,” said City Manager Brett Bennett.
The city has to complete an environmental and historical review of the area it wants to improve — even if it means tearing up one sidewalk just to put another down, Bennett pointed out.
Since the work to be done will be accomplished within an existing right-of-way, there isn’t expected to be the cost of right-of-way purchase.
The contract with Keck and Wood has a maximum of $65,000. The project likely will depend on the time the DOT takes to review it. A concept plan could be ready within two months. The environmental review could take from six to nine months to complete. Once it’s done and approved, preliminary plans and specifications for the project could be headed to the DOT for review within a month.
Bennett also asked council members for their input, based on the first phase of the streetscape improvement.
Springfield has an existing agreement with Keck and Wood for the non-TE portion of the streetscape project. Bennett met earlier this month with utilities’ representatives and the city-funded portion will need only a permit from the state Department of Transportation. Bennett said he hated to give a timeline as to its start and finish but believed it could commence this summer.
Council members also have approved seeking another community development block grant. The city currently has a CDBG that is being used to extend sewer service to a Railroad Avenue neighborhood.
The CDBGs have to be used for projects designed to help low- to moderate-income residents. Bennett said there is not a specific project for the grant, though city officials have long discussed a sidewalk that will connect Rincon-Stillwell Road residents to the city’s business district.
Council member Kenny Usher said that would be a worthy project because it would improve safety.
“There are more and more people walking and riding bikes,” he said. “It’s a tragedy waiting to happen.”
Bennett said such a grant would make the city’s special purpose local option sales tax dollars “stretch 10 times further.” He also asked if council members had any other projects in mind.
If awarded another CDBG, the council would have to approve going forward with it. Bennett also advised council members that getting a community development block grant entails more work.
“There are a lot of specific hoops you have to jump through,” he said.