Traffic flow, water flow among city council topics
Polk County Enterprise, April 2007
LIVINGSTON – Traffic flow and water flow were among topics addressed at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Livingston City Council. While drivers will likely see no changes in the near future, those turning on the tap at home may eventually see a difference.
The intersections of U.S. 190 at Business 59 and at Hwy. 146 were among two areas studied by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) at the city’s request. Herbert Bickley, director of transportation operations at TxDOT’s Lufkin District office, said traffic studies at the two intersections indicate present signals are doing their job and that the level of service would drop if left turn signals are installed, as had been suggested by the council.
Citing accident data, Bickley said there were 54 accidents recorded at Business 59 and U.S. 190 (Washington and Church streets) from 2002 through 2006, only nine of which were related to left turns. At the U.S. 190 and Hwy. 146 (Church and Houston streets) intersection, 63 accidents were recorded during the same time period, 16 of which might be susceptible to correction by installation of a left turn signal, he said.
Further complicating matters are space requirements which, even after removing on-street parking in a one-block radius of the intersections, would allow for only a narrow, 10-foot turn lane, Bickley said.
TxDOT was also asked to look into the need for the signal at Jackson and Church streets – a study prompted by several train/vehicle accidents at the intersection. Bickley said studies show the light is still warranted, but did not rule out the possibility of additional studies.
The TxDOT engineer also addressed the possibility of a right turn lane on the U.S. 59 feeder road by Burger King – something he said would require widening the existing road, which is complicated by utility easement issues and the effectiveness of a temporary barrier on Business 59 at the entrance to Southpoint Shopping Center.
That barrier, meant to keep northbound traffic from accessing the crossover into the shopping center, has not been effective, according to Bickley, but he added there are other alternatives he would like to try. Among the options being discussed is angling the crossover in such as way that northbound traffic could not enter, but those leaving the shopping center could still cross the highway and continue north into the city.
Updating some long-discussed projects, he said the possibility of an east-west bypass in on hold, but still being studied and the possibility of reopening Old Bold Springs Road is still being discussed with the county, although the farm-to-market road program under which the road would once have qualified is no longer in existence, he said.
Water works, bond refinancing
The council authorized the Trinity River Authority (TRA) to begin engineering work for construction of a 19,000 foot, 12-inch transmission line to bring water from the treatment plant on Lake Livingston into the city.
It would replace the existing 12-inch line built in 1979, according to Jim Sims, Southern Region manager of the TRA. The city contracts with the TRA for operation of the treatment plant and water delivery to the city.
While the city is receiving ample water from the existing system, there are some peak times, especially during summer months, when the system has trouble meeting the demand, which can present problems for residents as well as create fire protection concerns, he said.
He estimated the project would require the city issue bonds for just over $3 million. “It won’t get cheaper,” Sims said, “and with the [city’s] growth, it will be needed sooner or later.”
While looking ahead to the possible issuance of new bonds, the city is also considering refinancing some of its existing debt.
Jim Gilley, financial advisor with Coastal Securities, estimated that the bonds sold by the city in 1997 – presently costing an average 5.3 percent in interest – could probably be refinanced at a lower rate, possibly 3.7 percent. He estimated refinancing would save $20-$25,000 annually.
The council authorized Gilley to proceed with the refinancing process on the 1979 debt and indicated it will look into combining a future certificate of obligation issue into the refinancing process to save legal and advisor fees. That decision will be made at next month’s meeting.
Building purchase eyed; library plans
Following discussion in closed session, the council authorized City Manager Marilyn Sutton to explore the possible purchase of the Wadsworth Building, which is being offered for sale by the First Baptist Church.
While the purchase is a long way from becoming reality, one possible use for the building could be a library.
A report from the Murphy Memorial Library Long-Range Planning Committee was part of Tuesday’s council meeting.
The committee – consisting of Mary Hazel Landers, Jerry York, Carol Henry, Paula Kimbro, Joseph West, Fred Brown, Mary Joyce Davis and Randy Rae Satory – was appointed by the council in November to help formulate a long-range plan as a requirement for the library’s membership in the Texas State Library system.
The committee narrowed priorities to five areas: the need for a “commons area” for residents to meet; improved access to current titles and general information; providing ways to improve information literacy, including increased computer and Internet access; and providing life-long learning for citizens of all ages.
One specific goal of the committee is to increase the number of computers at the library by 50 percent by 2010. The library presently has nine computers.
Implementation of any of the recommendations will be at the discretion of the city council.
The council presented certificates of appreciation to the library committee members for their service in developing the plan.
In other business, the council canceled its May election --incumbents Judy Cochran, Clarke Evans and Ray Luna drew no opposition to re-election – and approved a resolution designating May as National Preservation Month.
Although not considered for action, the city manager reported on the possibility of implementing the CodeRED Emergency Notification System. The system would allow the city to launch telephone calls to all city residents within approximately three minutes, or target citizens in a select area in the event of an emergency.
Sutton said the city is also considering participation in the Sales Tax Analysis and Reporting Service (STARS), through which detailed sales information can be obtained through a private company working with State Comptroller’s Office figures.