News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news
FRIDAY, JULY 27, 2007

Decatur to start large-scale paving

By Evan Belanger 340-2442

Driving on some Decatur streets soon could be a more pleasant experience.

A list of Decatur streets scheduled for resurfacing is expected from the city's Engineering Department on Friday.

According to City Council members, the list is part of the current administration's first large-scale paving project. The last paving list saw completion in early 2004.

"We've had patching crews running constantly," said District 3 Councilman Gary Hammon. "But as far as going out and doing some serious paving, nothing has been done."

To help pay for the roadwork, the City Council took a $2 million loan in October. Over the last three years, city officials also have set aside $958,168 from the city's regular fuel-tax appropriations from the state.

Including earned interest, an additional $380,873 is expected from the state fuel-tax this year, raising the total available funding to about $3.34 million.

But even with the funding, City Council members do not expect to see every rough road in their districts on the list. Over the past three years, there hasn't been enough funding in the budget to pay for a large-scale paving project, leaving the city with a lot of catching up to do.

According to Mayor Don Kyle, the problem is the city's reliance on the state fuel tax, which fluctuates greatly with gasoline and diesel retail prices.

"If consumption doesn't go up, then revenue doesn't go up," he said. "But the cost of repair still goes up."

That has one city councilman calling for changes in the way the city funds its street projects. According to District 2 Councilman David Bolding, the city needs to spend more money from its general fund on road improvements.

He said Decatur has too many roads to rely on the fuel tax alone, and saving the appropriations up to do more work at once takes too long.

"There really needs to be some kind of fund that's subsidized by the city along with the gas tax," he said. "But we need other sources of funding, too.

"We have way too many streets to be waiting on just the gas tax alone to cover everything."

According to Kyle, saving up the fuel-tax appropriations helps decrease expenses for the city because it costs less to complete a few large projects than to complete several small ones.

While the new paving list is expected out Friday, there is still a chance it won't be out until next week.

According to city Engineering and Public Works Director Mark Petersohn, engineers were still working on the list Thursday.

"I'm hoping we're going to achieve our goal," he said. "If it's not out tomorrow (Friday), it's going to be very soon thereafter."

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