Juan Delgado, project manager for SpawGlass Contractors Inc. who has been hired to design the project, said he has met with city officials over the last few weeks and had created different options for the $1 million Conway streetscape project.
The “Cadillac plan” includes multiple, expensive upgrades but with extensive changes to Conway Avenue sidewalks the budget would only include four blocks. A less expensive plan, which was referred to as the “Chevy Nova plan,” allowed eight blocks to be upgraded.
Executive Director Ricardo Perez said there are options the MRA could pursue to provide additional funding for the project, which would allow more blocks on Conway Avenue to receive a facelift.
“Mr. (Martin) Garza and I talked to the mayor about the possibility of adding to our bond issue,” Perez said. “An additional million dollars, so we could instead of a $1 million project make a $2 million project and do 15 or 14 blocks.”
Perez said he had also met with the Valley Transit Company director, who recommended applying for grant funding through the Federal Transit Association. If approved by the FTA, the MRA would be required to make a 20 percent match. Perez said if the city council approves the extra million dollars, and the MRA secures the FTA grant, the cost to the city would be only $400,000, resulting in a savings of $1.6 million for the city and the MRA.
“It would save us a good bundle of money that we could use for other projects,” Perez said.
MRA Chairman Richard Hernandez asked what was the probability of getting approved for the funding through FTA. Perez said the executive director of VTC made it seem like it would be a “slam dunk,” since there are rarely any applications from the area and they want to fund projects down here.
“The only additional commitment…is that they (Valley Transit) would like two additional buses…funded by the city,” Perez said. “Which would enhance the number of routes to South Texas College and the University of Texas Pan-American.”
The additional two buses would cost the city $200,000 per year, for a two-year period. Garza said it is an option the city and MRA need to entertain.
Patrick McCauley with SSP Design, of Brownsville, said the streetscape project would include benches, trash receptacles, sidewalk pavers and a number of street trees or palm trees. He added there would be star shaped inlays placed at each corner and money in the budget for curb and gutter repair where necessary.
Delgado said three decorative options are available for the streetscape project. The add-on options would be at an additional cost and are contingent on whether the city can fund those items. The city can choose to include all or only one option. These options include: thermoplastic paint crosswalks with a brick paver pattern, a water feature, and splash pad. The base design includes pavers to be installed in the sidewalks only, and not in the pavement at intersections. McCauley later explained that the lifespan of the painted paver pattern on the street intersections is five years.
Perez said there has been no decision on the options, and specific blocks have not been chosen for the project yet. He said the options would be presented to the Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas and the Mission City Council.
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