Mineral Wells Area News

MW City Manager Touts Plan for New Roads in 5 Years

MW City Manager Touts Plan for New Roads in 5 Years
August 24
16:39 2022

By David Montgomery

The roads in Mineral Wells are often the topic brought up by those frustrated with what seems a lack of progress and empty promises by local officials. In 2018, voters approved $7.5 million for nine miles of new roads with water and sewer lines, a portion of the $11.46 Million GO Bond.

Inside the city limits of Mineral Wells are 132 surface miles of roads. The 2018 bond only covers nine miles, leaving 123 more miles needing repaired.

“[With] this 5-year plan, our goal is twenty-five miles a year,” said Dean Sullivan, Mineral Wells City Manager when asked about the plan to resurface the roads.

The city’s goal is to repair ten miles on their own and another ten miles as a partnership with Palo Pinto County. That partnership is a new and budding relationship between city officials and the county that began back in April with an inter-local agreement to repair 3.8 miles of city streets.

“We need to all understand that you’re a Palo Pinto County taxpayer first. You choose to live in the city and pay additional taxes which should enhance the county services, not be solely dependent as if we’re on an island,” said Sullivan.

Despite the new relationship, there are still five miles per year that need a full reconstruction similar to the nine miles from the 2018 GO Bond. The estimated cost of the remaining roads is one-million dollars per mile, according to Sullivan.

“Then it comes down to a decision of the people,” said Sullivan. “Ultimately, it’s the people of the community that need to kind of direct where we go.”

“Do you want to issue Certificates of Obligation, debt, on the short term, or we can plan over the course of the next five years to knock out this other twenty-five miles when the model flips.” continued Sullivan.

The City Manager’s model shows two, five-year intervals to include five years of reconstruction and five years of maintenance. After the initial ten years, the model would then restart.

“That would be five of the twenty-five full reconstruction that they could do in the flip 5 year period,” said Sullivan. “Now we’re 10 years in, and when it flips back and now we’re all in again on the rest of them, it actually works out the math exactly so all twenty-five miles of full construction can be done within budget and not taking on debt.”

While all 123 miles of road would not be finished in five years, close to one-hundred miles could, according to Sullivan.

Much of the promise of new roads stems from the Council’s decisions to purchase road building equipment in the 2021-2022 Budget where $1.04 million dollars was dedicated to five new pieces of equipment that would give city workers in the Public Works Department the ability to perform in-house reconstruction of the streets. This years proposed budget also includes the purchase of a road grader, a dump truck, and various other vehicles thanks to funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“Road building is hard on the equipment, on the personnel,”said Sullivan. “I do know we budgeted for renting some specialty(equipment) or when we might need an extra roller to move a little faster.”

While equipment may be budgeted and available, the setbacks of projects past still are worrisome for those who have seen freshly paved roads be torn up again because of inadequate planning.

“Is it learning from those mistakes, or is it being honest with one’s self that the real infrastructure of the community is the stuff you can’t see,”said Sullivan. “The stuff under the ground, a lot of that is older than me, and sometimes things break,” he said.

“The intention to only be torn up again installing utility services and drainage, if we have the right equipment and our guys become very good road builders – which our street department wasn’t fashioned to build roads. They were quasi-maintainers,” lamented Sullivan.

“The lesson learned is that you got to have the right people doing the right job with the right tools, and then insist they repair it in the right way.”

For Mr. Sullivan, rebuilding the roads is not just a feat of engineering or budgeting, but of creating a culture within the city’s public works department of being more than just maintainers. He wants them to feel they are builders.

The city’s plan to invest in the roads is more than just updating old infrastructure. Giving new life to the streets will give new life to the town according to the man with the plan. Sullivan likens updating the streets to the “Use of Force Continuum” followed by law enforcement which places the presence of the officer as the first impression that sets the tone for how things can escalate.

“You talk about our town and it all starts with presence.” said Sullivan. “Well, how do people get to our town? Through a Road.”

“If we have all this investment in the community where people are putting their money where their mouth is, but if we don’t fix the streets, it’s kinda all for naught. It is the lipstick on a pig,” Sullivan explained.

The future of the City Manager’s plan rests on the City Council and the County Commissioner’s. A public meeting between the city and the county will be held on September 1, at 4pm in the AMR training room at 525 Tradeway Drive. Community participation and commenting is highly encouraged.

%d bloggers like this: