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$1.8 million project to improve streets

November 26, 2018

The city of Friendswood has completed work on two streets out of the eight it has chosen to improve this year through an ongoing program that focuses on neighborhood roadways and is funded by a portion of sales tax approved by voters in 2016.

The work on the eight streets is a $1.8 million project to address surface smoothness or deteriorating subgrade on asphalt roads, Public Works Director Patrick Donart said.

Completed the week of Thanksgiving were East Viejo Drive, which extends about a half mile from FM 518 to its dead-end, and Moore Road, which runs about the same distance from Friendswood city limits to FM 528.

Next to be improved are West Spreading Oaks Block, East Spreading Oaks Avenue, Wilderness Trail, Winding Way Drive, Falling Leaf Drive and Clearview Avenue.

All of those roads, excluding a concrete section of West Spreading Oaks Block between Laurel Drive and Woodlawn Drive, should be complete before the end of the year, Donart said. He said the city has decided for now not to disturb the concrete section, which extends less than one mile.

Asphalt roads to be improved in 2019 are: Baker Road from Stonewall Pass Road to Falling Leaf Drive; Falling Leaf Drive from Baker Road to Greenbriar Drive; Linson Lane from Falling Leaf to its end; Clearview Avenue from Quaker Drive to its end; East Spreading Oaks from FM 518 to Quaker Drive; Wilderness Trail from Creekwood Lane to Spring Creek Lane; Winding Way from Leisure Lane to Oak Drive; Winding Way from Briarmeadow Avenue to its end.

Donart said another contract for $1.8 million is expected in early 2019 to tackle some of those roads and then more would be covered through another contract after that. The order of streets to be improved has not been decided, Donart said, but the city will continue to use the information from the study to guide it in addressing the most in-need roads.

The work is a part of an overall program intended to provide on-going maintenance, repair and reconstruction of existing concrete streets, sidewalks, curbs, sealing and asphalt overlays, according to city budget documents.

For the work, the city contracted Angel Brothers Construction, which has offices in Baytown and New Braunfels.

Infrastructure Management Services, a firm headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., was hired to conduct an assessment of every street in Friendswood and rank them according to their quality, Mayor Mike Foreman said.

Donart said the study cost $74,992 and was paid for through a budget allocation of $500,000 earmarked for road needs that are not covered by the tax, which only funds maintenance.

“It was very technical,” Foreman said of the company’s work. “A machine uses sonar to detect the subgrade.

“We got a very scientific method, went down every street, and went down the list,” he said. “We’re gonna tackle the 1-40 (lowest scoring), the poor or very poor.”

Foreman said no street in Friendswood scored a 100, but some scored in the high 90s.

Funding for the work that will continue into 2019 comes from a 3/8 of a cent per dollar sales tax imposed on customers who buy products or services in Friendswood.

The tax was approved in a May 2016 election by residents of Harris and Galveston counties who live in Friendswood. In the same election, an additional 1/8 of a cent per dollar for downtown redevelopment was approved.

Foreman said the city has collected approximately $1.4 million to $1.5 million in sales tax allocated for street maintenance.

Collection of both taxes was delayed until January 2017 instead of starting in December 2016 as planned because of a lawsuit filed against the city by eight residents who say the taxes are unfair, city spokesman Jeff Newpher said.

They allege the city failed to include a Harris County precinct in the ordinances calling the election and charged that mail-in ballots were not counted correctly.

The case was dismissed by The First Court of Appeals in April, according to a Houston Chronicle report. The case is before the Texas Supreme Court, Newpher said.

“We want to get across to voters we’re spending the sales tax money they approved on street repair. We’re going to continue to see improvement to these streets as we go forward,” Foreman said. “That sales tax sunsets — we have to put it back on the ballot in 2020 again if we want to keep this up.”

Jjones@chron.com

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