State: Grant can’t pay for First Street repave

The City of Langley will likely have to dig into its own pockets if it wants to repair First Street’s roadway.

Transportation Improvement Board officials confirmed that the city’s request to use $150,000 of its $250,000 Complete Streets Award Program grant on a comprehensive milling and overlay project from Wharf Avenue to Anthes Avenue was rejected a year ago.

The city’s Complete Streets Works Plan was approved in December 2016, but the grinding and overlay portion of the project meant for the First Street roadway was stricken.

Other proposals submitted, including five new raised pedestrian crossings, new curbs and gutters, a pedestrian plaza at Thomas Hladky Park, converting parking on the north side of the street from angled to parallel and wider sidewalks in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, were approved by the board.

The public will have a chance to weigh in on the proposals at a public meeting sometime in January 2018.

The repaving project, along with several other upgrades proposed for the redesign of the street, is included in the city’s six-year Transportation Improvement Program approved by the Langley City Council in August. But the Transportation Improvement Board’s engineers said the funds can only be spent on transit, bike, pedestrian or aesthetics improvements.

Public Works Director Stan Berryman said it is his understanding that roadway repaving was an allowed use of the grant monies, but Transportation Improvement Board Engineering Manager Chris Workman said this isn’t the case.

“That was never part of the approved work plan,” Workman said.

Workman clarified that milling and overlay is typically permitted whenever there are new features such as crosswalks or wider sidewalks being constructed. During this type of work, asphalt is typically cut and replaced. Repaving is required to smooth things out. It’s referred to as “incidental” or “transitional” maintenance.

Workman said the city’s proposed milling and overlay project for the roadway is far more extensive, involving a “full-width grind” at a “two-inch depth.”

It is not entirely clear how the city plans to proceed. Though informed by a Record reporter that Transportation Improvement Board officials rejected the city’s request to use grand funding to repave the road, city officials are seeking official clarification from the board regarding “what can and cannot be done paving wise,” according to Mayor Tim Callison.

City officials are unsure what the scope of the project will look like depending on how the Transportation Improvement Board responds.

“I cannot comment further until we hear officially from the TIB in writing as the amount of allowable repaving that we can conduct in this project,” Callison wrote in an email. “When we have that we can input that information into the design process and shape our work plan for the project.”

The street is in poor shape and is deteriorating, Berryman said. On a scale of 0 to 100, Berryman rated it at 60.

The city could move forward in one of two ways, both of which would involve allocating the leftover $150,000 to other improvements allowed by the Complete Streets Awards Program.

The first and perhaps more immediate solution would be drawing from the street maintenance fund to cover the cost of repairing the distance from Wharf Drive to Anthes Avenue. When contacted on Monday morning, City Clerk/Treasurer Debbie Mahler said the total money available for the city to spend on a project of that magnitude was not readily available.

The other option is a piecemeal approach, though Callison likened this to “painting a car that doesn’t run” considering the other updates that are coming down the road. A starting date for construction on the redesign of First Street is not yet set because the project is still being ironed out in public process.

“The grant money has an expiration date so we may end up doing the paving work piecemeal which will cost more and be less uniform in the long run,” Callison wrote.

The grant expires in December 2018.

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