Work to Begin Soon on Congress Street

By Pauline Masson, Pacific Editor | Posted: Thursday, February 26, 2015, 5:30 pm
Work will begin next month to rebuild a 12¬block stretch of Highway N (Congress Street) as part of a three¬phase project to improve the street from Fourth Street to the city limits. The $942,027 project, stretching from Fourth Street to Hawthorne Subdivision, will take six months to complete. N.B. West, St. Louis is the contractor.

Cochran Engineering designed the project. East¬West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGW) approved the federal funds in the February 2013 funding round. Improvements will include asphalt road resurfacing, concrete sidewalks, concrete curb, new concrete approaches to residences, pavement striping and traffic control. Some lane closures will be allowed for portions of the work, however, the contractor will be required to maintain two¬lane, two¬way traffic and provide portable traffic signals to control traffic flow. The city engineer will receive paving schedule plans and approve the work prior to commencement and will be notified ahead of time when the single lane traffic plan goes into effect.

Although this is the second Highway N improvement project, the work is designated Phase Three. “The Highway N phases were conceptualized in numeric order,” said Dan Rahn, city engineer. “However, due to the availability of funding and shifting schedules, they are being constructed out of order.” Phase 1, which included new sidewalks, curbs, and storm sewer improvements from Hawthorne Subdivision to Indian Hills Subdivision, was conceptualized first and completed in late 2012. Phase 2 was to continue sidewalks and improvements from Riverbend School (Indian Trail) out to the city limits (Myers Farm Lane).

This phase, which would extend the improvements as far as they could go inside the city limits, originally was to be designed and constructed without federal funds and be paid for solely by the city. After the Congress Street phase was applied for, the sidewalk extension project was deemed too expensive to be funded solely by the city and was abandoned for a later date. Officials should know by April of this year if the funding will be granted.

In February 2014 the city applied for funds for a fourth phase, which would have included the Riverbend School to Myers Farm Lane sidewalks along with an asphalt overlay for the remaining unimproved portion of Highway N, which would have cost over $1 million. When EWGW denied that grant and advised the city that due to diminishing federal funds that projects over $300,000 to $400,000 would not be approved, the city went back to the Phase 2 sidewalk project. The city has since applied for federal funds for the sidewalk project or Phase Two, which will hopefully be funded in the FY 2016¬19 round of grants.

“The good news is that all of these roads continue to be eligible for federal funding,” Rahn said. “But due to the decrease in funding, we will have to take smaller bites as we progress with road improvements. “All in all I think the city has done a great job of utilizing federal funds for the last several years,” he said. “Consider this, since 2011, we have secured federal funding for $9.6 million worth of improvements at a total cost to the city of $2.1 million, including the three projects that are awaiting construction. That’s a cost of 22 cents on the dollar and a total of about $526,000 per fiscal year (2011¬15).”