The city of Mission held a special meeting on Mon. Oct. 5, to hear an update on the Taylor Road project from L&G Engineering.
The project for Taylor Rd. is broken down into two phases: Phase 1 runs from the expressway to Business 83, and Phase 2 runs from Bus. 83 to Mile 2 Rd. The proposed letting date for Phase 1 is the summer (June) of 2021, and Phase 2 is the summer of 2022, according to J.P. Terrazas, the project manager and Mission’s city engineer.
Jacinto Garza presented the update as a representative of L&G Engineering. He said the Phase 1 total project cost is about $10 million, with construction costing $6 million.
“The city of Mission, city of McAllen and county of Hidalgo participated with you,” Garza said. “The total cost of what the locals have spent is $2.58 million.”
According to Terrazas, the project will expand Taylor Road into four lanes going in two directions, as well as a left-turn lane. Both sides of Taylor Road will also have sidewalks.
“This project has been in the works for several years – we approached the MPO [Metropolitan Planning Organization] for funding, and also got an AFA [Advance Funding Agreement] with TxDOT [Texas Dept. of Transportation] three years ago,” Terrazas said. “The funding is mostly coming from the MPO – for the city shares, we’re paying two percent, and on the right of way it’s a 20 percent local share.”
Terrazas said that because of the time it has taken to plan, acquire the necessary parcels of land and negotiate with other municipalities, contractors and consultants, Taylor Road project cost for the project has increased.
“Every year materials and workmanship goes up [in price],” Terrazas said. “Yes the estimate has changed, and it’s [costing] more now. We’re still approaching the MPO to increase the funds.”
Terrazas said the local costs for the project have been budgeted in Mission’s General Fund. Garza said the MPO has allotted $6.19 million toward the project, and the original construction cost estimate was $4.5 million.
“We’ve got a shortfall of $1.5 million for next year,” Garza said, noting there is already an Interlocal Cooperative Agreement (ICA) signed by Mission, Hidalgo County and McAllen. “The intent is any overruns are going to be shared equally between McAllen and Mission.”
Half of Taylor Road belongs to Mission, while the other half belongs to McAllen. Garza said the right of way map, environmental study and public involvement has been completed, and the project is set up with 90 percent of the plans completed.
“We’re going to include the water and sewer lines from McAllen and Mission into our set of plans, and currently the city of Mission is completing their set of plans,” Garza said. “We’re going to be including our set of plans when we put it out for bids on the project.”
Garza said an extra lane was included for Romulo Martinez Elementary (2571 E 4th St.), and the drainage needs will be addressed.
“We’re going to reconstruct the business intersection, and we’re going to be constructing some pipes underneath the railroad for drainage,” Garza said. “All that coordination has been taken care of.”
Garza said there were also a couple of pending issues on the current state of the project.
“As far as the railroad goes, there’s been letters that have come out of [Mayor Armando O’caña’s] office, and J.P.’s [office], so we really need to continue with the coordination between the city manager and attorney to contact them and get us a response, just make sure we have all these agreements with the railroad,” Garza said. “It’ll be a transition to the North of the railroad tracks.”
He noted that when it comes to utilities, he is working with City Manager Randy Perez and Terrazas to come up with an ICA to ensure L&G Engineering addresses the utilities and who is going to inspect them.
“The city of Mission has three ICAs as you develop the project,” Garza said. “Right now there’s only one pending, and that is because of the utilities – water and sewer. McAllen has some on their side of the road, and you [Mission] have some.”
Garza said McAllen had hired their own firm to handle their side of the utilities, and Mission was working on their own separately as well – L&G Engineering is then supposed to incorporate both plans into the final project.
“When they go to construction we need to make sure that another ICA is developed so it is clear – for any overruns, who’s going to pay, and who’s going to inspect them, because some of them belong to McAllen and some to Mission.”
Garza repeated the job is $1.5 million short for next summer, and that needed to be addressed with Mission and the city of McAllen. As far as the right of way is concerned, there are still 39 parcels of land that still need to be acquired.
Eight parcels of land are going under eminent domain, which Garza said have been submitted to the city. According to the mayor and city attorney, only three have been received by the city to be resolved without going into eminent domain.
“If the owner of the parcel does not agree on the appraised value, we put those parcels under condemnation, under eminent domain,” Terrazas explained, noting the city attorney would be handling that area of the project. “There were some residents who were not agreeing with the appraised value, they made a counter offer and the counter offer was super high, so we took it to eminent domain.”
Garza said two were submitted that day (Oct. 5), and the rest should come in by the end of that week. O’caña said the council had concerns, so they have created new intervention plans to address the acquisitions prior to classifying parcels under eminent domain.
Garza said Phase 2 of the project is twice the size of the first, and it would cost about $19.5 million.
“At today’s [construction] cost, it’s about $12.4 million, so we’re going to have to work with the MPO because there’s about a $4.8 million shortfall,” Garza said. “You’ll probably need to coordinate with the city of McAllen and the county and assign some money to it, because it is a big dollar amount.”
Today, the local costs are estimated to be $3.5 million. The ICAs with Mission, McAllen and the county have been completed on this phase, along with the right of way map, environmental study and public involvement.
“The plans are 85 percent complete, and we have a whole year to complete them all,” Garza said. “The city of Mission is actively completing their plans, and we have coordinated with the drainage district because you do have the Mission Lateral there.”
70 parcels need to be acquired for the second phase of the project, and Mission needs to work with the MPO to figure out final cost estimates and distributions from the municipalities.
Terrazas said implementing the expansion of Taylor Road is an important project for Mission.
“It’s one of the main corridors for the city of Mission and the city of McAllen,” Terrazas said. “It’s going to bring a lot of good traffic, and the property values are going to increase tremendously – we’re going to have a brand-new road with all the services – the sidewalks, new intersections, new traffic signals, new bridges. It will bring a lot of satisfaction to the citizens of Mission and McAllen.”
Council member Jessica Ortega-Ochoa asked why in the presentation, it stated L&G Engineering would be working with both the current Mission City Attorney Gus Martinez as well as the former city attorney Abiel Flores.
Garza said when they drafted the ICAs with McAllen, some of those funds needed to be allocated to the city attorneys considering Flores was involved with some of the acquisition process for three of the parcels.
Ortega-Ochoa said they needed to look more into why Flores was still listed and what they were going to do about it, as a cost-saving measure. Garza said they would work with whomever the city elects the engineers to work with.
Martinez said there was money set aside from an administrative standpoint for both his work and Flores’. Garza said there was a percentage set aside specifically for legal fees.
O’caña met with the McAllen Mayor (Jim Darling) on Wed. last week to get more information that may clarify some issues. City Manager Randy Perez said the Taylor Road project will increase mobility within Mission and McAllen.
“This project will definitely benefit with the flow of traffic going North and South,” Perez said.
Following the presentation, the council entered into executive session to discuss salary adjustments for city of Mission department directors. No action was taken on this item, and the meeting was adjourned.