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Churchill Drive in Granite Shoals

The Granite Shoals City Council approved contracts to build more culverts like this one at Churchill Drive. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

Street and road improvements dominated the discussion during the Granite Shoals City Council’s regular meeting Aug. 10.

City staff presented a list of streets to be upgraded in the 4 miles of planned improvements. They include Churchill, Kingswood, Moss Downs, Hillcrest, South Lake, Forest Hills, Valley Way, Shorewood Downs, Clear Cove, and Blue Cove. Cost is $350,000 with all work done by the city’s street department.

“It is a lot of money to be spent, but we have to spend it,” City Manager Jeff Looney said at the meeting. “We’re doing cement stabilization in the base of the asphalting.”

The council also approved contracts with Qro Mex Construction Co. Inc. for 15 culverts at Kingswood Drive totaling $19,000, 13 culverts on Churchill Drive at $19,500, and eight culverts on Valley Way Drive at $16,000. 

Council members asked for a list of priority streets for the 2021-22 fiscal year. While city staff compiled the list, Looney explained the criteria used to determine which roads would be on it.

First is condition, whether the street is deteriorating and the type of surface on the road. 

Second is traffic — the amount of and what types of vehicles use that roadway. School bus traffic will be figured in as well. 

Another is density, or the number of houses on a street, especially new homes that are being built. 

The last is drainage issues, meaning some streets have ditches that need to be cleared to allow water to safely flow off of roads and grass that needs to be cut. 

The council also wanted to know if help paying for the roads could come from the state or federal governments, especially now that the U.S. Senate approved the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Looney said details on who will qualify for that money and how to apply have not been released. 

Federal money can’t always be counted on, Assistant City Manager Peggy Smith said. In 2017, the city expected $3.6 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, only to find out later that wasn’t true. That outcome compelled city leaders to ask voters to reaffirm a $3 million road bond they had already passed.  

“We went around with the Department of Agriculture,” she said. “Turns out, it wasn’t available. Street money is hard to find.”

Growth in the city could help leaders retire old debt before thinking about taking on some more, Mayor Pro-Tem Ron Munos said. 

“I don’t think, at this point, we’re ready to take on any more debt this year,” he said. 

Some residents might want to pay for improving their streets, Councilor Steve Hougen said. He encouraged city staff to explore the possibility. 

Council members told Looney and staff they wanted the list released to the public. 

“It can ease the citizens’ minds that, ‘Hey, my street is coming up to be paved in two years,’” Councilor Samantha Ortis said. 

City leaders also announced a detour to Bluebriar so Landmark can install a water line in preparation for the new water tower. The closures are: 

  • 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, Aug. 11-13
  • 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturdays, Aug. 14 and 21
  • 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, Aug. 16-20

jfierro@thepicayune.com