by Sid Johnson
South Main from Bethel Road/College Park Drive to IH-20 reconstruction problem:
At the Weatherford City Council Meeting Tuesday December 14, 2010, 6:30 p.m., the next to last item on the agenda (the policy of this Council is to put off residents/taxpayers until the very last) was a discussion with residents/taxpayers, business persons/tax generators and the City Council/paid city staff concerning problems with the proposed construction of the afore-mentioned section of South Main.
The businesses’ concern is a raised center median in the roadway to restrict vehicles turning across the street to gain access to the businesses. The problem is not no left turns but the very limited number of left turns planned. Residents/taxpayers want more turns for easier access to the businesses on either side of South Main, whether traveling north or south. Business operators need access for customers to be able to patronize their businesses.
Our current Mayor did not seem to be overly concerned about this perceived problem. He reminded those in attendance this South Main project has been on-going since 2006. His only reply to those asking about changes or making suggestions: “Did you attend any of the public hearings in 2007 about this project?”
a) Notification of these hearings, under our previous Mayor, was not widely publicized. Any notice was in the classified section of the newspaper.
b) Anyone with knowledge and/or concerns about this project would have had to know where the plans were to be seen and who to contact about their concerns.
c) Knowledge of how to read road construction plans would have been required.
d) Many of these businesses, or their buildings, did not exist at the project’s inception.
The roots of this problem are:
a) The Weatherford Economic Development Board, under its previous, inept administration, would not have wanted plans of this project known for fear a potential business or shopping center development would be lost.
b) The Weatherford Planning and Zoning Board has never had any interest in the surroundings of known future developments and how each will impact the other. Staff recommendations, not public input, have been the only voices considered.
The arrogance of the paid senior city management toward the residents/taxpayers was exemplified by the Assistant City Manager in his reply to an inquiry from a resident/business person: “We are junior partners in this project with TxDOT”.
We residents have been told that a bike lane is now required for federally funded projects. But, Weatherford sold bonds to build this South Main project. The “pass-thru toll” legislation is a Texas program and the taxpayers of Weatherford must pay the interest on these bonds and many other expenses associated with the project.
Other projects on-going or recently completed:
a) Jack Borden Way, recently completed, is a state highway, as is South Main has only a sidewalk on one side and, yes, you guessed it, NO bike lane. It falls under the same “pass-thru toll” legislation as South Main.
b) The US 180 viaduct over the Union Pacific Railroad, a federal funded highway being built by TxDOT, has a very narrow sidewalk on the outside railing, but NO indication of a bike lane.
c) The South Main Street/IH-20 overpass has sidewalks on both sides, but again, nothing resembling a bike lane. South Main street, north of IH-20, will have the only bike lane on streets/highways in the city.
d) What is a bicyclist to do?
1) Ride on the sidewalk
2) Dismount, pick the bicycle up and carry it across on the sidewalk
3) Move into the traffic lane and continue to ride across
An appropriate question begs asking – “Where’s the requirement?” Show us the black and white and where to find it. We, the residents, just cannot seem to trust any words from senior city administration.
Weatherford residents/taxpayers are NOT “junior partners” to anything. We are paying for this project. We expect our elected officials to stand up for our concerns, to promulgate our interests – and our interests alone – with all who would try to take advantage of us.
Our elected City Council members MUST require city staff to make the interest of the residents/taxpayers their job. Rudeness to residents/businesspeople/taxpayers/tax generators who are only trying to get information on how to live successfully in the City of Weatherford can NOT be allowed.