Ben Wilson project hits speed bump

A conceptual drawing shows what a revamped Ben Wilson Street corridor might look like.

Following years of conversations, resolutions and roadblocks, Victoria City Council on Tuesday will discuss authorizing and executing the Ben Wilson Street corridor improvement project.

The Ben Wilson Street project, which includes major reconstruction on the street to result in three lanes instead of five, 8-foot-wide sidewalks and a through corridor, is designed for the safety of University of Houston-Victoria students.

Plans to restructure the street began in 2015, and the city of Victoria and university officials have been discussing the contract since 2017. UHV President Bob Glenn said May 8 that the university has taken the steps required on its end, and the project is in the city’s hands.

The current contract, outlined in the City Council meeting packet, states the city would sell the outside two lanes of Ben Wilson Street between Red River Street and Airline Road to UHV and use the proceeds to improve the remaining three lanes. The project design will follow the proposal the Council approved in 2017.

The total project budget is $7 million, according to the contract.

Also Tuesday, the council will discuss, for the third time, a contract for the Crestwood Drive reconstruction project, which will redo a half-mile stretch of Crestwood Drive between Laurent and Ben Jordan streets and includes a new concrete road, water and sewer lines, storm sewer improvements and sidewalks.

The council earlier this month delayed the contract for the second time after discussing whether they could choose a more expensive contract that would have the project finished sooner. Tuesday, the council will discuss staying with the cheapest contract with Brannan Paving Company. The contract has a $4,136,157.46 price tag and will take almost one year and eight months to complete.

Also, the council will discuss the planning and potential expenditures outlined in the new Capital Improvements Program, a short-range plan that identifies plans of local capital projects.

Tuesday’s meeting will be the first council meeting for recently hired Jesús Garza, who begins his job as city manager Monday.

Morgan Theophil covers local government for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6511, or on Twitter

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