State grant to help fund a new face for Sixth

Published on Thu, Jan 31, 2002 by Meg Olson

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State grant to help fund a new face for Sixth

By Meg Olson

Sixth Street will get sidewalks next summer, thanks to gas tax dollars trickling back to Blaine.

In September, city assistant public works director Steve Banham applied to the state transportation improvement board for half the cost of a $630,000 reconstruction of the street between H and D streets. Last week he got word that out of 112 applicants, Blaine was one of the 20 selected. “We just barely missed it last year and it looks like we learned from that,” Banham said.

The transportation improvement board grant funding comes from three cents of the state gas tax allocated for transportation projects.
“This is great news,” said city manager Gary Tomsic announcing the award to city council January 28. “This is an important community project.”

Sidewalks for Sixth Street, a link between the school complex and residential communities, have been high on the city’s priority list since 1998 but limited funds and staff time has kept the project on the back burner. “A number of factors contributed,” Banham said of the delay. “Our staff time has been limited and our attention was more focused on wastewater issues. We have the residential street levy that runs through 2006 and we don’t have that much left. If we just used it up we could only do maybe one project. It makes more sense to wait for grants and use it as match money – do more streets with it.”

The current proposal goes beyond sidewalks. The entire street will be rebuilt to meet new city standards, utilities will be put underground and a faulty water main will be replaced. A storm drainage system under the roadway will replace the ditch that now runs along the west side of the street which is frequently overwhelmed in heavy rains. “Some of the changes are dictated by the new stormwater standards from the state department of ecology, some just make sense,” Banham said. A substantial addition to the stormwater system will be a bioswale and a detention pond where G Street dead-ends into the freeway to clean up run-off water and prevent it from rushing pollutants into local waters. “It seems like the logical place to put it rather than having it rush into Cain Creek,” Banham said.

Banham said staff would continue to try and stretch city street dollars and look at re-prioritizing projects with the help of a citizen’s advisory committee now forming. “It might be time to dust off the list a little,” he said.

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