City of Waco leaders are taking bids through October 25 for Phase 1 of the Elm Avenue Infrastructure Improvements project – which includes the rehabilitation of Elm Avenue from Hood to Clifton Streets and Forest Street.
The project will improve curbs, gutters, driveways, intersections, storm drainages and water services – with new asphalt, 8 and 12 inch water mains and fire hydrants.
Kody Petillo is a project engineer for the City of Waco. He says Phase 1 was brought on in the life of the overall Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside program project, or TASA.
After progressing on TASA, a federally-funded project, city engineers realized they had more infrastructure needs on Elm that needed to be completed first.
“We are going to be putting in A-D-A pedestrian ramps in preparation – not necessarily for Phase 2 – but the TASA set aside project that’s coming that’s going to take care of the curb to curb from Martin Luther King to Forest and Garrison," Petillo said.
But it’s all about timing.
“That’s the main challenge – getting that project completed, getting it bid. We are behind schedule and we’re trying to catch up on construction because the goal is to be completely done with that before the next phase starts," Petillo said.
The city’s estimated cost of the program is $2.9 million dollars.
At a pre-bid meeting this month - companies looking to work on Phase 1 submitted questions and sought clarification on the project’s needs.The city has posted four addendums to clarify questions asked about the project so far.
Petillo said they will work on Elm Avenue in sections – with the intent to shut the street down block by block and detour traffic.
The road will remain a two-way street and portions will have a turn lane. After Phase 1 there will be another project to bring other options for people navigating Elm.
“Once the second project comes through, the sidewalk and the overall project that’s from MLK to Forest and Garrison, there will be bike lanes along Elm as well," Petillo said.
Petillo said they are also removing head-in parking down Elm and replacing it with parallel parking.
“For backing out of head-in parking, we’re looking at potential wrecks every day. It should be easier for people to park and leave, to come and go," Dr. Nancy Grayson said.
Grayson currently has head-in parking in front of her bakery Lula Jane's on Elm – which used to be parallel.
She says having parallel parking will be safer, although it does mean there will be less spots to park - which could result in people parking on neighborhood streets. Grayson says another option might be to put in a parking lot.
And although she does agree with the addition of bike lanes – she is concerned about the replacement of historic sidewalks – like those in front of Lula Janes.
“It’s going to be a nightmare in terms of access to Lula Janes while they’re redoing it. And the city will be responsible for providing adequate access to our building during construction so that’s going to be interesting because we’re in the middle of a block," Grayson said.
She says she does want to see sidewalks on Elm that aren’t broken or dangerous - and handicapped ramps that are effective.
“I think right in front of Lula Jane’s, our sidewalks are perfect," Grayson said.
After bids are read and one is accepted and approved by City Council, Phase 1 could start as early as December or January. Petillo says Phase 1 would have to completed by September 2020 when the next bid process would need to start.