Street Funding

Priority projects have included street maintenance, visibility improvements sidewalk development, and bike lanes.

Work to maintain and improve roads and streets in St. Helens will boil down to dollars and cents, according to St. Helens Public Works Engineering Director Sue Nelson.

"We have about $14 million in projects with very, very, limited funding available on an annual basis," Nelson said. "It is very challenging. The projects far exceed the amount of funding we receive."

Priority projects have included street maintenance, visibility improvements sidewalk development, and bike lanes.

Nelson said the needed funding is based on the St. Helens Transportation System Improvement Plan (TSP) adopted by the city in 2011. The TSP is a document listing multiple improvement projects and funding sources designed to improve the city's transportation system.

Nelson said the primary source of money for funding the street projects comes from the state motor vehicle tax and the remainder of the funding is used for actual improvement projects, such as paving and sidewalk repairs through the state Surface Transportation Program.

The funding challenges are also enhanced with state and federal regulations, such as the American With Disabilities Act (ASA).

"There is no way to actually implement all the projects with limited funding, so we seek grant monies, but the competition is extremely high," Nelson  said. "Larger cities, like Portland, can easily qualify but we have been successful in getting grants."

While Nelson said calls from residents about neighborhood street potholes are usually addressed, larger priority projects are more of a challenge to resolve.

Among those projects, Nelson listed the intersection improvements at South 1st Street and St. Helens Street as a top concern.

"That project includes pedestrian safety and sight distance improvements, which will cost an estimated $300,000," she said.

Nelson was set to deliver an information presentation to the St. Helens City Council on Wednesday, May 15, about the street fund future projects.

Follow this developing story here on line and in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.

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