Organization strategy

Olympia’s sidewalks could get a big overhaul

By Lorilyn C. Lirio

Speaking to the public outcry for sidewalksDirector of Public Works Mark Russell has asked the Planning and Environment Committee and the Finance Committee to assess the sidewalk policy and transport master plan funding for the program of the next year.

Russell was at the finance committee meeting on Wednesday, November 17 to discuss elements of the 2023 work plan, including a review of the transportation master plan.

He said staff will study what other cities are doing regarding sidewalk repair policy and compile a possible range of options and implications of those options and discuss them with the Land Use and Management Committee. ‘environment.

They expected the committee to make a recommendation to the full council and implement a new sidewalk repair policy.

The Public Works Department, Russell said, is not taking action on the sidewalks because it believes it is important to have a political discussion first.

He added that they are considering setting aside year-end funds to possibly implement a one-time repair program when the sidewalk policy discussion is over.

Finance Committee Review

According to Russell, the Transportation Master Plan (TMP), which was passed last year, has a lot of unfunded needs. He proposed that the Finance Committee review these needs and the current PGT funding with particular consideration to an ongoing update of the pavement management system and the construction of new sidewalks.

“We would focus on those two things, identify new sources of revenue and hopefully define and implement a fundraising strategy that may have new sources of funding,” he told committee members. finances.

Russell sees it may be a year before they can act on the pavement management system and sidewalk construction. “We think it will take several meetings in 2023, possibly 2024, especially if we have to go to voters for additional revenue or taxes. We think that’s probably more than a year of work.”

He proposes to start discussions at committee level on transport funding as early as February.

STV 2004 measure

Russell said the Utilities Tax (UTT) measure passed in 2004 primarily funded the construction of new sidewalks. Besides the list of sidewalks, the measure also allowed the financing of the maintenance of the sidewalks.

“The measure itself didn’t have any specific projects. It was in the associated documents when they announced the measure. It had the list of projects. So it wasn’t in the ballot itself,” said noted the Director of Public Works.

With City Council approval – and confirmed by legal staff, Russell said they used STV revenue and “made the decision to deviate from the original slate”.

He added that all initial ballot projects are still included in the master plan list.

In 2004, Russell cited strong public support for sidewalk work on major streets with major destinations, bus stops, school activities, and other things. “It was just 20 years [ago], and things have changed. Community needs have changed. »

He pointed out that some of the projects as far as the ballot are either completed or still on the list, but not gone.

“The TMP list is now our sideline. The 2004 measure has been superseded, in my view. We have not lost any projects.


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