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Street proposal would rehab John Stockbauer Drive near Caterpillar plant

By Brian Cuaron
Aug. 1, 2011 at 3:01 a.m.

In the recent survey conducted by the city of Victoria, John Stockbauer Drive from Business U.S. 59 to U.S. Highway 59 is rated low and in need of a facelift.

TOP TEN WORST STREETS

These numbers were taken from Victoria's recently released 2010-11 street inventory. The lower the number, the worst the street. The ratings go up to 100.

34 - Santa Rosa Street: From 200 Depot Street to 200 Cameron Street

42 - Red River Street: From 2500 Ben Jordan Street to 2000 Depot Street

50 - Levi Street: From 1100 Red River Street to 1100 Rio Grande Street

52 - Trinity Street: From 1800 Navarro Street to 2000 Laurent Street

54 - Black Street: From 3800 Nova Avenue to Dead End East End Subdivision

56 - Louis Street: From 1200 Red River Street to 1200 Rio Grande Street

57 - Sabine Street: From 1900 Navarro Street to 2100 Laurent Street

57 - Depot Street: From 600 Red River Street to 600 Brazos Street

58 - William Street: From 300 Second Street to Dead End Original Townsite - South Central

60 - Crestwood Drive: From 3600 Main Street to 3800 Laurent Street

NOTE: Sometimes a street's width can hurt its ranking. Such was the case with Black Street, which had a 10-foot width. But a street may serve its purpose as a narrow street and not be in need of rehabilitation, Short said.

OLD BUT BEAUTIFUL

Blotches of slab decorate her face, divided by cracks big enough to put a foot into.

From Depot to Cameron streets, Santa Rosa Street was rated Victoria's worst street.

"Well, I didn't need a survey to tell me that," said Janet Whitehead Jones, whose Perpetual Help Home office is on the street.

Sarah Waters said she drives real slow on the street because it makes the inside of her car tumble. Walkers don't fare much better as parts of the sidewalk resemble mini hills next to trees.

Jones said there were ways around the street. She added she was fine with the city fixing streets like Sam Houston Drive over Santa Rosa.

But at least one of the street's familiar users had an affection for it.

"I think it's one of the prettiest streets in town," said Jerry Bernhard, whose shop is located there.

Bernhard remarked on the trees that shadow the street with its overarching arms. She didn't want rehabilitation to hurt them.

Jimmy Roach, deputy director of public works, said the street's utilities were slated to be replaced.

HOW VICTORIA CHOOSES PROJECTS

Victoria staff looks at a number of criteria before recommending which street project to go with next.

What streets get fixed was ultimately the city council's decision, said Lynn Short. He provided the following criteria:

Street inventory rankings

Condition of underground utilities

Money available and project's cost

Traffic volumes on the streets

Houses and businesses serviced by the streets

Some of Victoria's downtown projects could be delayed so the city can repair a portion of the road leading to the Caterpillar plant.

A city proposal would delay the engineering and construction of downtown utility projects and engineering for planned upcoming work.

The rehabilitation work would cover John Stockbauer Drive from U.S. 59 to Business 59. The project would cost $8.5 million, according to a report by Gilbert Reyna, Jr., finance director.

John Stockbauer would be turned into a concrete street able to handle 100,000-pound loads coming from the Caterpillar plant once it is operational next year.

The city council will choose residential streets for rehabilitation during its summer budget process, said Lynn Short, director of public works.

Larger streets are chosen for rehabilitation during discussion of capital improvement projects, Short said. Such discussions occur two to three times per year.

John Stockbauer Drive would probably be the next main thoroughfare to be fixed, Short said.

Other main thoroughfares under construction are North Laurent Street and Sam Houston Drive.

He said Red River Street, Crestwood Drive and North Street were other main thoroughfares in need of repairs.

Short explained that larger streets typically weren't funded by the general fund.

Often, they were funded via general obligation bonds or by the Victoria Sales Tax Development Corp.

The proposed John Stockbauer project would receive $1.2 million from the 2012 fiscal year's budget.

About $1.99 million would come from 2012 sales tax, $628,936 from leftover capital improvement project funding, $3.28 million from postponing a downtown water and sewer line replacement project, and $168,684 from postponing another downtown project.

The 2012 water/wastewater fund would contribute $1.2 million.

The schedule for capital improvement projects would also be delayed by a year.

Victoria City Manager Charmelle Garret told the city council about the proposal in a July 5 meeting. John Stockbauer Drive was scheduled for 2014, but with Caterpillar's plans to expand its plant, the project had to be bumped up to 2012.

"It means you're going to need to make some choices in priorities," Garrett told the council at the meeting.

Council members said they were behind the project, although not all were happy.

Councilwoman Denise Rangel, who represents the downtown area, said she wanted her district's utility projects to continue. But she said it was important for John Stockbauer to be improved.

She said it would cost more if the city wasn't proactive.

Councilman Joe Truman, whose super district also includes downtown, said the road was in horrible shape.

"If not done on a short order, it will be totally destroyed," Truman said.

Yet Councilman Gabriel Soliz didn't like delaying projects for one "that's going to service only one client."

He wanted to find other ways to fund the project without using the city's general fund.

John Jones, the Caterpillar plant's facility manager, declined to comment through his assistant.

Other street projects

Soliz wanted the Mayfair Terrace neighborhood's sewer lines fixed.

He said it was his district's only neighborhood not eligible for Community Development Block Grant funding.

He and Truman wanted the Greenbriar neighborhood repaved. It's underground utilities are being replaced.

"The streets have been chewed up," Truman said.

Truman said the North Heights area has water line breaks. Marilyn Drive, north of Crestwood Drive, has a flooding problem, he said.

Water Street and Red River Street, west of Vine Street, were on Rangel's wish list.

Councilman Tom Halepaska said deciding which streets to fix is a matter of prioritizing.

Mayor Will Armstrong said a lot of residential streets need repairs.

He said taxes shouldn't be lowered so long as that's the case.

"I think we should spend the money on residential streets so our property values don't fall," he said.

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