South Main Construction Issues – leadership void

by Sid Johnson

Weatherford Businessman

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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?”

Consider:

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.

6 responses

  1. More recently completed projects which do NOT have “reguired” sidewalks or bike lanes:
    a) FM 51/171 south of I-20
    b) any approach for sidewalks to the I-20/S Main-FM 51/171 bridge, both ends
    c) B B Fielder, East to the I-20 frontage road and west to Bethel Road, no sidewalks or bike lanes.
    Mr Assistant City Manager, why do these not have to meet these requirements???

  2. Are the erroneous and sometimes conflicting responses by city “leaders” the result of ignorance or arrogance – or both? In the eyes of we tax payers, the true competency level of our city leadership is slowly coming into focus. We now see clearly what some have been saying about a couple of our city council members.

    The city wants our taxes, but does little to protect the flow of traffic to and from our businesses thereby reducing tax revenue. I hope I am mistaken, but it looks as if the city manager and his assistant rely on condescension and arrogance to disguise their absence of subject matter knowledge – or just plain incompetence!

    I wish we could believe our city leaders are protecting the interests of businesses as well as private citizens. Unfortunately we can’t – and I see no hope of anything changing; at least until the next city council election. By that time we will be stuck with construction “improvements” on South Main that restricts traffic flow to and from our businesses.

    1. Jay – TxDOT is still reviewing citizen input they received on the project during the Public Hearing held in November. Finality of the design in my opinion cannot be reached until all the citizen comments provided can be properly reviewed by TxDOT. That would be putting the cart before the horse.

      Additionally, the project still has to go through a bidding process before the job is awarded to a Construction Contractor.

      Bottom line – Hope is not lost if change of the design is still being requested by the people. The City still operates as a democracy (government for the people of the people and by the people). However, Councilman Clinton and I cannot fight this battle alone. We need everyone to email and call the other three Councilmembers (Mayor Hooks, Councilman Swancy, and Councilman Hamilton) and let them know about your feelings on this issue. Here is a link to the City Website. If you select the tab under departments on the website you will find the email addresses of your City Council Members. http://www.ci.weatherford.tx.us/index.aspx?nid=695. If you do not have access to internet services the phone number to City Hall is (817)598-4201. If you call City Hall make sure you ask to talk with Mayor Hooks, Councilman Swancy, or Councilman Hamilton. They are your Council Members who have endorsed the current project design without the cuts in the medians suggested by Councilman Clinton, myself, and a number of business owners on South Main.

      Change cannot happen unless you, the people are willing to stand up and make your voices heard. Keep in mind it is you the people who are at the top of the food chain with regard to how your City operates. We your elected officials serve you (the people) and not vice versa. If you have additional questions for me I may be contacted at my email: ematthews@weatherfordtx.gov or by phone at (682)556-9248.

  3. Weatherford’s Assistant City Manager has said the reason for the “bike lane” is that it is now “required” because of the federal “APPA: funds involved.
    This project was developed in 2007 and funded with bond money approved by the residents/taxpayers in 2007.
    We are paying for it , NOT federal “APPA” funds from the Obama adminstration.
    Mr Assistant City Manager, how about a straight answer with black and white back up

  4. This question needs to be ask about the “why the current plan for the center median on the S Main contruction” is it because the turn lane space is being used for the bike lane.

  5. At theTuesday, Fed 8, meeting of the Weatherford City Council, a item to be dicussed in Exective (Closed)Session is the appointments of board and commission members.
    The listed reason this can be discussed in Exective (Closed) Session is by “Sectin 551.074 TEXAS Government Code”, you can Google it and it will come up. That secton says :
    Sec. 551.074. Personnel Matters; Closed Meeting
    (a) (1) to deliberate the appointment,.. of a public public officer or employee;
    The question is if the the appointment of non paid, volunteer citizens to the boards and committeesof the City of Weatherford are public officials or employees. Please show the doucmentation they are before this discussion takes place in Exective (closed) Session.
    Putting this item in Exective (Closed) Session is a ploy by several members of the council to hide the appontment of thier hand picked appointmentees with out having followed thier own stated procedures. Mayor Hooks, Council Members Swancy and Hamilton I direct you to Attorney General’s Greg Abbott introduction in his Open Meetings training video, which can be found on line:
    “The public’s right to know is essential to accountability in government where the right to know would occure in government meetings and what is in public records”.
    May I suggest you “boys” go back and revisit that video.
    I’m sure if you ask “your”, by no way a attorney to protect the public’s interest, city attorney. he is aware of the Travis County County Attorney”s investigations into improper, illegal meeting, that resemble yours, of the Austin City Council and possibly the indictments of those council members for thier illegal, improper meeting.

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