Progress - Infrastructure Plans Roll Along

City gas tax funding most critical element in assisting with the completion of local infrastructure projects.

Sep. 26--DANVILLE -- With motor fuel tax funding coming in less each year and rising road construction costs, stimulus funding, grants and city gas tax funding have never been more critical in assisting with the completion of local infrastructure projects.

"Last year, if we had not had the gas tax, we would have had no (asphalt) overlay program," city engineer David Schnelle said.

Annually the gas tax (Infrastructure Improvement Fund) helps with approximately: $700,000 in asphalt overlay work and $200,000 in seal coat (oil and chip) work. Motor Fuel Tax funds (about $890,000 annually) are normally dedicated to major projects.

The city has been able to have three years of the seal coat program, in addition to resurfacing more streets, such as Townway and Fairchild Street between Logan Avenue and Gilbert Street.

Danville Public Works Director Doug Ahrens added of the gas tax, "it's made all those projects possible."

Various infrastructure projects remain on the state, county and city's radar.

Main Street

Businesses and residents have dealt with the Main Street widening project since 2003.

After about a two-year break, Illinois Department of Transportation officials say land acquisition for the third and final section could start this year.

David Bayler, IDOT District 5 land acquisition engineer, said land acquisition will occur during a two-year period.

"We hope to begin this year," he said.

The final section to be widened and existing asphalt replaced is from Nicklas Street to east of Kansas Avenue. The roadway will be widened 4 1/2 feet on both sides.

Bayler said funding is appropriated this fiscal year for land acquisition, and if money continues to be available construction would start in 2013.

Estimated costs: $360,000 for land acquisition, $100,000 for utility adjustment and $5.3 million for the widening, resurfacing, bi-directional left turn lane, curb and gutter.

"A lot of what we're doing is obtaining construction easements so they can build it," Bayler said of the land acquisition.

IDOT officials have identified 54 parcels that would be impacted with this section. Largely temporary easements and a few corners are needed.

"We won't have to be taking a lot of permanent property," Bayler said.

He adds, however, because the original plans are "fairly old" now, "we are reviewing the plans to see if anything has changed."

Gas tax, projects

The city has about 187 miles of streets, or 406 lane miles to maintain.

Jackson Street remains a high priority for the city with the Jackson Street Corridor Community Design project because residents mostly complained about Jackson Street in a street repair survey more than a year ago on the city's Web site.

Schnelle said there are concerns about the pavement, curb and sidewalk conditions, intersections, vehicular speed and pedestrian/bicycle accommodations.

Voorhees Street also is being partially incorporated, with city officials recommending a roundabout where the two streets meet.

The work there isn't yet scheduled to be completed. The final design will be a six-month process, and there will be one full property purchase needed and another possible purchase at the intersection.

Schnelle said it'd be nice to see it completed within the next five years.

"We always work with the property owners ...," he said.

There will be more meetings this winter about the corridor project.

Also, city officials will open bids in November, with construction in the spring, for Voorhees Street bridge, roadway resurfacing and sidewalk improvements. The city received $700,000 in federal economic stimulus funding for this project.

Another road many residents complained about in the city survey was Old Ottawa Road.

Schnelle said rideability and other improvements haven't been scheduled.

"If we have available time, we'd like to design it in-house," he added.

The city's current 5.4 cents per gallon gas tax, and 2.4 cents per gallon diesel fuel tax, helps offset part of the annual drop in the city's portion of state motor fuel tax funding.

City officials built in the possible annual gas tax increase, determined by a formula, to cover increasing material costs. Under the ordinance, each gas tax rate will increase by an amount per gallon equal to 2 percent of the rate established by the Illinois Department of Revenue as of Jan. 1 each year.

The current rate is a 6.25 percent state tax applied to a gallon of gas. City officials projected that in five years, this will result in an increase of 2 cents per gallon and 6 cents per gallon in 10 years.

The city gas tax is determined by a formula using the state's "Part B" rate of the motor fuel use tax. The "Part B" rate is equal to 6.25 percent of the average selling price per gallon of motor fuel sold in Illinois. The average is an official figure computed annually, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue.

The city gas and diesel tax rates are equal to 2 percent of the state's "Part B" rates, added to the current tax. This year, the state's rates were 18.3 cents per gallon of gas and 21.9 cents per gallon for diesel fuel.

Total annual revenue is about $800,000, less than the $1 million city officials initially hoped for.

Because the city had less than a full year of revenue, it only saw about $540,000 in 2008. Funding went to resurfacing Townway, Fairchild, Seminary, Hazel and North streets, in addition to the seal coat program addressing various streets south of Voorhees.

So far this calendar year, about $500,000 has been raised with the tax. City officials estimate $902,000 in revenue from May 1 to April 30, 2010.

Other projects:

n 2009 asphalt overlay projects included portions of Winter Avenue, Hazel, Jackson, Franklin, Walnut, Robinson, Seminary, Voorhees and Blueridge streets.

n Bowman Avenue improvements (resurfacing, shoulder, patching and other work from Voorhees to West Newell) are under design for possible late summer 2010 construction.

Schnelle said the hill at Liberty Lane also will be re-graded and dropped down to improve the sight distance

n International Drive, for ThyssenKrupp, should be completed by Nov. 30.

n Funding still needs to be identified for the Lincoln Park Historic District Shared-Use Path.

n The South Griffin Street sanitary sewer replacement project is under design, with bids soon to be sought for a spring project.

n Fairchild subway replacement: The current design project (data collection, preferred roadway design, etc.) will take about 2 1/2 years. The city has about $7 million in state capital funding for the project, but needs $13 million more. Possible sources are federal grants, the Illinois Commerce Commission and other assistance. There also could be potential land acquisition needed.

n The city also has applied for federal funding to replace the South Griffin Street bridge over Stoney Creek, and it also is looking to replace the deck of another Voorhees Street bridge over Stoney Creek.

Vermilion County

In Vermilion County, there are 157 miles of county highway and more than 1,000 miles of township roadway.

Vermilion County Highway Engineer Doug Staske gets frustrated in talking about road projects in the county and how "every year we do less."

This is because construction costs in at least the last 10 years for maintenance-type projects have doubled; motor fuel tax funds have decreased; and tax levies have remained flat.

The county continues with the affordable maintenance work, but the overall impact on the roads with fewer yearly improvements is obvious, Staske said.

Also, with the increased cost of steel and concrete, the county can no longer repair as many bridges each year.

"We used to do about four a year. Now we do about two," Staske said.

There are about 316 bridges in Vermilion County on township and county roadways. The county assists the 19 townships with their bridges.

"We prioritize on our inspections ..." he said.

Funding comes from federal, state and local dollars.

The average bridge repair cost is about $100,000 for a single span type bridge, with replacements over $200,000.

Stimulus projects in the works:

n A bridge replacement east of Rossville on County Highway 14. A bid letting will be in November.

n Asphalt resurfacing of Denmark Road from the boat club to West Newell road. It's also scheduled for a November bid letting with construction set for the spring.

n A bid letting just occurred for: a bridge repair in Grant Township; constructing a new bridge on Western Avenue in Danville Township; and working in Catlin Township on debris removal and erosion repair for a bridge on Anderson Hill. The work should occur this fall and winter.

"(The economic stimulus funding) did help us to push those up and actually do them," Staske said of the projects. "They were needing to be done."

The county also finished annual seal coat work with motor fuel tax funds, and was to re-stripe roads.

Other projects in the works: replacing a bridge in Vance Township and reconstructing the road (County Highway 11) through Muncie, from U.S. 150 to the north side of Muncie.

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