How to choose, how to choose? We’re not talking Easter eggs. What do you do when it seems almost every street in town needs repair and you don’t have the money to fix them all? You start asking for help.
Just over 18 months ago, we asked Tahlequah voters to approve a temporary half-cent sales tax dedicated to streets and sidewalks. You stepped up and gave us the nod. Since then, the money has been building, so we have just over $1.5 million accumulated. The Streets and Sidewalks Advisory Committee was formed to oversee the funds and help answer that question, “How to choose?”
Much deliberation later, after doing traffic counts on several roads and considering the habits and needs of the community, the first projects for Streets and Sidewalks have been selected, bids taken, and a contractor selected. Because each time contractors bring equipment to town, they assess a pretty steep fee, the committee elected to have the project work done back to back. This saves us money – but it means once work starts, it won’t stop until all the projects are done.
When we know the exact start date and the order in which the projects will be completed, we’ll be sharing. Road work interrupts the flow of traffic. It’s almost always a hassle for those in the vicinity. It’s now road-building weather. We’re moving forward with one major sidewalk project and resurfacing the worst sections of seven of the most highly traveled roads in town.
Between now and mid-summer, the sidewalks on Choctaw from College to West, will be replaced on both sides of the road. Resurfacing will be completed on Rayne, Mahaney and Mimosa, which collectively are used by many drivers to avoid the Walmart/Reasor’s intersection on the bypass. You will also new surface on College Avenue from Fourth Street north to the school, on Allen Road from Vinita west to Moccasin (by Anthis Brennan), on West Fourth Street from Campbell west to the Bypass, and on Cedar from the school north to Crafton.
Most of you will also remember the rest of Cedar north to Allen Road is one of the 2013 bond projects that hasn’t been completed. The good news on that front is that the last of the right-of-way has just been acquired. Those plans, which includes sidewalks, are complete and ready to go. We’ll be moving forward with utility work before long. As we get the construction schedule firmed up, we’ll be sharing that information with residents and the community.
In the meantime, our Street Department hasn’t been idle. Over the past few months, they worked with the county and Cherokee Nation to resurface East Downing, East Ross, and Nalley Road connecting the two. They resurfaced Park Hill Road from Ballentine south to Willis. Working alone; the Street Department resurfaced Hillcrest from Fourth Street north to Fox. This week, they will be on Turpin and then will be moving on to Jeffery, Kelly and Pendleton.
It’s a race. Stretching our resources to fix roads before wear and weather destroy roadbeds is a challenge. Thank you, Tahlequah, for giving us a chance to make a difference.
Sue Catron, former assistant vice president of Business and Finance at Northeastern State University, is mayor of Tahlequah.