Mike Marlar of Marlar Engineering of Little Rock recently reported an overview on the current drainage system and street improvement project for West and Park streets that was originally approved by the previous administration. Marlar said the grant that was applied for would cover more than one project.
“Back in 2010 we made a grant application to the Arkansas Department of Economic Development for numerous drainage and street improvement projects throughout Helena-West Helena,” commented Marlar.
Marlar explained that in 2011 Marlar Engineering received a $400,000 disaster relief grant to go toward improvements in areas that require attention such as West Street, south of Chicago and Park street beginning U.S. 49 and running to Sebastian.
“These funds were administered by the East Arkansas Planning and Development District and plans are being submitted to ADED for authorization to advise for construction bids,” said Marlar.
According to Marlar this is just one of the future improvement plans that is mostly a drainage project but includes a streetscape project that begins on Plaza and stretches from U.S. 49 essentially where the Phillips County Boys & Girls Club is located and winds up to Highway 49B.
Marlar says plans include a landscape median, new curbing around the median and sidewalk from the B&GC to the city/police complex.
“There are future phases that will be addressed later as funding is acquired for Plaza beyond Highway 49B,” added Marlar.
Marlar explained that the future “streetscaping” project is funded with the state Highway and Transportation Department funds with an 80/20 grant. “What this means is the AHTD reimburses 80 percent of construction costs through this enhancement program. The awarded federal funds are $250,000 and the local city match of $62,000 is required for a total of $312,500,” explained Marlar.
According to Marlar, a resolution was passed and engineering contract was executed. Plans are now complete and ready to head to the bidding phase.
“We actually anticipate their approval to advertise construction bids,” continued Marlar.
Marlar added that the authorization could be received in 2 to 3 weeks after which a recommendation will be made by the AHTD after all bids have been collected and presented to council. Documentation was presented to the council last week detailing the future improvements and photos that were taken of the flooding on Plaza Street.
“The city' streets and drainage system is in need of major improvements to reduce flooding that occurred in 2008,” said Marlar.
Marlar reported that the project application specified that the city's drainage system and sanitary sewer system were in significant need of repair and replacement and that the city has prepared a master plan of improvements identifying the needed improvements to the sanitary system to prevent storm water from infiltrating the sewer system.
“The city's wastewater treatment plant lagoon levee has experienced erosion from storm water and needs repair,” said Helena-West Helena Mayor Arnell Willis. “Park improvements are needed for neighborhood revitalization. These improvements need to be implemented to maintain a quality of life that will cause people to remain in the city and maintain and increase population which has been in decline.”
Page 2 of 2 - Maps of improvement include:
• Ashlar Street drainage ditch improvements
• West Street drainage ditch improvements
• Plaza Street drainage and sidewalks - downtown revitalization
• 7th and 9th Street drainage and street improvements
• Anderson Avenue drainage and street improvements
• Old Dominion, Forest Hill, St. Regis, Cedar Street area-drainage, 7th street sidewalk improvements
• Park Street – drainage and street improvements
• Panama Road - drainage improvements.
According to Marlar the projects are ready for bidding but based on the city's current financial situation he wanted the council to be aware of the commitment that will need to be made before they can mover forward.
Marlar reminded the council that the Arkansas Highway Department passed their sale tax in the November election and will issue $40 million dollars to the cities throughout the state of the Arkansas to use for highway or street improvement projects within their own municipalities.
Marlar recommended that Willis set up a meeting with state officials to discuss moving forward.