February 21, 2017

Bond Program Project Selection and Schedule

Your city leaders have been diligently preparing for the next round of major projects, both in planning for the recent bond election and in the months since the voters overwhelmingly approved the Bonds for Better Bellaire 2016 (BBB16) bond program.  I previously recapped the next steps and what to expect.

At last night’s City Council meeting, the City Manager presented to Council and the public the projects that have been identified for BBB16 and a master project schedule for the next three years.  For a copy of the report, click here.  At our upcoming town hall meeting on March 6, the City Engineer will give a more detailed presentation concerning bond program implementation and our ongoing drainage work.  As I announced in my State of the City Address a few weeks ago, our scheduling this town hall is no doubt motivated by our desire to keep you informed following the heavy rain event last month, and the timing is also right as we get underway with the bond program.

The projects recommended for BBB16 are broken down into four groups, to be completed in phases (schedules are estimated):

  • Group A includes $11 million worth of water line replacements over the next three years.  Engineering design for Phase I will be completed this summer and construction will begin in October and run through summer 2018.  Phases II and III will follow and be finished in early 2019 and 2020, respectively.
  • Group B consists of four street and drainage projects that were identified but not completed under the 2005 Rebuild Bellaire bond program (RBB) that has just concluded.  These projects can be accomplished in one phase, since design was largely already done under RBB.  Project ranking for BBB16 took that “shovel-readiness” into account, along with resident expectations based on their streets having been identified during RBB.  They were good projects then and they’re good projects now.  Group B thus represents Phase I for streets and drainage under BBB16, and will be constructed from late 2017 through late 2018.
  • Group C picks up with Phases II and III for streets and drainage.  Design work will begin this spring and continue while Phase I (Group B) is under construction.  Phase II streets are targeted for completion in mid-2019 and Phase III in early 2020.
  • Group D is for new sidewalks, in addition to those already included with the streets and drainage projects in Groups B and C.  Of the $4 million in BBB16 for new sidewalks, the first $1 million has been allocated to Phase I projects to be designed and constructed through 2017 and 2018.  Subsequent phases will be determined with the benefit of the community pathways master plan presently being developed.

The three phases of streets and drainage improvements summarized above represent roughly the same pace of work accomplished under RBB.  It’s an aggressive schedule, and should opportunities arise to do so we’ll seek to accelerate it even more.  The $20 million authorized under BBB16 for streets and drainage will be issued as needed to keep up with the work as it progresses.

As was our approach in RBB, streets are prioritized in rank order, driven more by drainage needs than by surface condition, though both are considered.  The City Engineer’s very timely drainage study has made for an even more informed project selection process.  As was also the case with RBB, we are confident in the current rankings but any major changes in field conditions (such as flooding events in the interim) might result in slight priority adjustments.

City Council has provided initial feedback on the project selection and proposed implementation schedule, and we earnestly solicit your input as well.  Please join us at the town hall meeting on March 6, to hear directly from the City Engineer and share your thoughts as we get underway with these major improvements.