AP NEWS

An aggressive approach to city streets

January 11, 2019

When it comes to wise and appropriate use of tax dollars, it’s hard to find a better choice than improving city streets. That’s why there should be widespread support for the City of Norfolk’s plans to undertake five major projects in the next three years.

The largest and most costly by a significant margin is the reconstruction of Benjamin Avenue from 13th Street to First Street. The early planning and design phases of the reconstruction will begin in 2019, and construction is expected to begin in 2020. The project is projected to cost about $10 million.

Anyone who has driven this highly trafficked east-west corridor knows not only how bad of shape parts of it is, but also how congested it can be at times with the Norfolk Family YMCA, the Norfolk Middle School, Northeast Community College and retail businesses located along it.

Although final designs are not done, it’s possible that the incorporation of turn lanes could serve to help ease traffic congestion on Benjamin Avenue.

Another major street project scheduled is reconstructing Braasch Avenue from First Street to Fourth Street. One of the major potential changes on that street will be the construction of a roundabout at the First Street intersection with Braasch Avenue.

Roundabouts aren’t appreciated by all motorists, but there’s no denying that virtually every study done of their effectiveness shows that they help reduce the number of serious accidents while keeping traffic flowing.

Yes, it will be a change if, indeed, another roundabout becomes part of the future of Braasch Avenue, but it will be worth it.

The three other major projects scheduled include a bridge replacement on First Street, construction on Prospect Avenue from 27th Street to Ridgeway Drive and a box culvert replacement on Fifth Street.

Doing five such projects in a relatively short time period translates into a lot of cost, too. The city will be making use of traditional sources of revenue, and applying for grants, but Mayor Josh Moenning also has floated the idea of having voters potentially approve a temporary sales tax increase to help fund the improvements. It would be similar to the increase that voters approved to pay for the Norfolk Public Library renovation and expansion. That proved quite effective and relatively painless as a way to make possible a needed community improvement.

We believe Norfolkans and area residents should be pleased with the city’s plans for an aggressive approach to street improvements.

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