The Odessa City Council unanimously approved commissioning a long-term transportation plan, reasoning that the $445,000 expense is worthwhile because the result should save money on costly transportation projects such as road maintenance and construction.
The 4-0 vote Tuesday tasks the engineering firm Kimley-Horn with crafting a long-term transportation plan meant to guide future road work, including the city’s approach to road maintenance, identifying transportation needs and seeking state funds for major projects.
“It’s a lot of money but in the big scope of the picture when you look at what you are trying to accomplish — Odessa is growing huge,” District 5 Councilman Mike Gardner said.
The wide ranging study will include a review road upkeep, road conditions, traffic volumes and accidents, traffic signals, and how the city prioritizes and pitches road projects funded by other entities. District 3 Councilwoman Barbara Graff and Mayor David Turner were absent from the meeting.
One resident, Dallas Kennedy, objected to the study during the Tuesday council meeting, saying the money could be better spent elsewhere and pointing to frequent work by the same engineering firm that the city has commissioned, including the University Boulevard widening project underway.
Public Works Director Tom Kerr said the study would include valuable cost estimates, and enable staff to better “focus on what we do to try and maximize the dollars for the best effect.” Kerr said the study had not developed a long-term transportation plan in almost 20 years.
“The fact is that Odessa is growing in different areas today than it was at that time,” Kerr said. “And so what the consultants do is they evaluate where we are seeing the growth, because that is where you are pressed to do your infrastructure.”
City transportation officials also say the study will help in planning projects such as redeveloping downtown, where goals include greater pedestrian traffic and improved lighting.
The city administration has already given the firm a smaller contract of $15,000 so the contractor could begin analyzing downtown parking before the school year ends and traffic in the area thins out.
IN OTHER BUSINESS, THE CITY COUNCIL:
>>Approved minutes from City Council meetings on May 8, May 10 and May 15.
>>Authorized the city to apply for and spend a federal grant that would provide a partial payment for bullet proof vests.
>>Authorized the Odessa Police Department to buy leather firearm carriers for more than $61,000, using donated funds.
>>Approved awarding a more than $242,000 bid to Fab Tech Wastewater Solutions LLC for reconstruction of a wastewater clarifier at the Bob Derrington Water Reclamation Plant.
>>Approved an update of the list of officials who can authorize the use of city funds, reflecting recent turnover.
>>Approved the more than $114,000 purchase of a bucket truck.
>>Opened a public hearing and approved for the first time a request by Shanti Thangam for original zoning of Retail-One on about one acre of vacant land to accommodate a jewelry store east of the intersection of the Highway 191 service road and Rocky Lane Road.