Hillsboro planning street projects without raising taxes

Hillsboro residents can expect to see some significant street improvements beginning this summer. But with so many streets needing attention, some residents will have to wait patiently before seeing their pet projects addressed.

That?s the forecast from City Administrator Larry Paine, who is working with the mayor and council to develop a plan that identifies which projects to take on, and a schedule for getting them completed.

?We know we?re going to do something on Adams, we know we?re going to do something on First, we know we?re going to do something on Industrial, and we know we?re going to do something on the west side of town.

?The question is, what is it and when is it??

The opportunity to take on significant projects came about because the city is about to pay off a bond for a former improvement project. The city plans to use the current $50,000 monthly payment on the old bond to finance a new 20-year bond estimated at $1.2 million.

?We?ll use that money, roll it over and continue to do street improvements and not have to do a mill-levy increase,? Paine said. ?That?s the key. We?re tying to figure out how to improve without raising taxes.?

Initial council survey

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Paine recently circulated a survey among the city council members that identified more than 30 potential projects. Using a weighted-score format, the most highly rated project was renovating Cedar Street, from D Street to Grand Avenue.

?Frankly, I don?t know what it was that prompted the council to rate that one particularly high, except the fact that those are the kind of issues that are common there,? he said.

Also scoring among the top 12 projects were similar D-to-Grand projects for Birch and Date streets.

Paine said the survey is only a tool to identify the interests of council members, and is not prescriptive for the plan that will ultimately emerge.

But the high rating for the three residential streets on the west side of town do speak to a divide among council members, according to Paine.

?We?ve got an interest in making sure our entrances and our arterials are in excellent shape,? he said, ?and then we?ve got an interest in making sure we?re doing work on streets where people live.

?Both of those are appropriate approaches, but in the long run I think we?re going to have to have a balance here,? Paine added. ?There?s going to be a point that people will be saying, ?My street is horrible, what are you going to do about it???

Weighing costs and benefits

Another component of the planning process is whether to use concrete or asphalt for street-replacement projects.

?There are costs and benefits to both,? Paine said. ?Years ago, doing a concrete street was more expensive construction than asphalt. But because of the cost of oil now, it?s become relative.?

He said if pricing is about the same, concrete streets generally are the best choice.

?A concrete street doesn?t require a lot of maintenance,? Paine said. ?You don?t need to chip-seal it. You do have to do crack and joint sealing because water will get in there and freeze and it will break. But that?s pretty much the limit.

?On an asphalt street, you?ll get a crack, water will go all the way down to the base and then push up. That?s what creates potholes.

?What we?re tying to do now is to look at how do we get the most bang for the buck,? he said.

Related to that issue, some potential projects call for street replacement, while a few are mostly cosmetic in nature, such as an asphalt overlay over an existing street.

?What they want is for the street to look pretty,? he said of those who favor the cosmetic projects. ?If you look at the price of ?pretty,? it?s expensive. We could use that money and make a real impact for people living along a street that needs to be rebuilt.?

Summer timeline

Paine hopes the council will develop its street plan in time to take on a project or two this summer.

?We?re going to have to do some projects now, some later,? he said. ?And I realize that some of the later stuff is going to be stuff we really should be doing now.?

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City council?s Top 10 list for street projects

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Following is a list of the 10 street projects that generated the most interest in a survey of Hillsboro City Council members conducted by City Admini?strator Larry Paine. The survey included more than 30 possibilities. The results of the survey are meant only to get a beginning sense of the council?s interest, and is not prescriptive for the final plan, Paine said.

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1. Cedar Street, from D to Grand

2. A Street, from Main to Washington

3. Industrial Road to U.S. Highway 56

4. Second Street, from Main to Washington

5. Adams Street, from B to the former railroad tracks

6. Adams Street, from the railroad tracks to Third.

7. Adams Street, from Third to U.S. 56

8. First Street, from Ash to Main

9. Birch Street, from D to Grand

10. Date Street from D to Grand

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For a list of all the projects on the survey, and their estimated cost, go to hillsborofreepress.com and click on ?Breaking News.?

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