City officials want to tap an outside firm to study city roadways and to craft a long-term transportation plan with goals that include saving money on maintenance, identifying future needs, and supporting efforts to seek state funding for major projects.
The Odessa City Council is considering spending $445,000 on the study by Kimley-Horn, the same engineering firm handling the project to widen University Boulevard. 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.
“This is going to be key, especially in the future for getting money for projects,” Mayor David Turner said.
Traffic Operations Superintendent Hal Feldman said the study should save the city on road projects that can cost millions, especially paving and restoration work.
“It will give us a field map for how we should be prioritizing roadway projects for maintenance, but it will also give us a budgetary tool,” Feldman said.
During about 15 months, as the area sees increased traffic amid the oil boom, the firm would be tasked with a wide ranging review that includes the city’s approach to road upkeep, road conditions, traffic volumes and accidents, traffic signals, and how the city prioritizes and pitches road projects funded by other entities.
Other parts of the study would look at responsibilities of property developers, alleys, street lighting and policies for the city’s extra territorial jurisdiction.
The firm would also help the city develop a 10 year plan through a process that would include several public meetings.
City staff said the study would include valuable cost estimates, and enable better planning for proposals such as planning for downtown, which is a major portion of the study. City officials have considered asking to take over Grant Avenue, which is a state road today, to redevelop it so it’s more pedestrian friendly as part of a broader effort to revitalize the downtown area.
“It’s a fairly comprehensive study,” said Public Works Director Tom Kerr, as he explained the cost, “But we expect to get a lot out of it.”