Columbus to spend $3.5 million on bike paths

[Columbus to spend $30 million on streets]

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 12:29 PM

The Columbus Dispatch

Columbus will spend an unprecedented $30 million to resurface 285 miles of streets and alleys this year, Mayor Michael B. Coleman announced this morning.

The capital budget will include the money, for 141 streets all over Columbus, when the City Council takes it up on March 7. The city spent about $21 million last year on resurfacing, Coleman said, and just $3 million - all of it from federal grants - in 2009.

"A couple of years ago, the city of Columbus had no money to resurface streets and we spent no money to resurface streets," Coleman said. "I could not foresee a time when we could resurface streets."

But voter approval of an income tax increase in August 2009 now leaves the city with enough money to issue bonds for the work, Coleman said. The increase raised taxes from 2 percent to 2.5 percent.

Coleman, a Democrat, is running for re-election this year against Republican Earl W. Smith. Four of the seven city council members, all Democrats, are also up for election this year.

The plan includes 225 miles of streets and 60 miles of alleys.

Public Service Director Mark Kelsey said city crews will cut weeds and trees along the alleys, fill ruts with gravel and tar over the surface. The street work will be done by paving contractors, he said, and the bids for the first package of projects are already out.

"My department will get most of the streets done this year," he said.

He said no one in his department can remember spending this much on resurfacing in a single year.

Coleman also said he supports spending $4 million to add sidewalks, especially near schools and spending $3.5 million on bike paths.

Councilwoman Priscilla R. Tyson, who is leading the council's efforts on the $212.7 million capital budget, said members support the resurfacing plan. She noted that the spending will create a lot of work.

"These projects leverage dollars to make sure people have jobs," she said.

Kelsey said he could not estimate how many jobs the projects would support.

"Because so many streets need to be resurfaced, every quadrant of the city will be seeing activity in terms of resurfacing," he said.

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