As you know, the State recently announced, that due to fiscal errors, it would be returning income tax money that belonged to cities and counties. In keeping with my commitment to strengthen our neighborhoods and build an economically vibrant Fort Wayne, I recently unveiled a plan for the use of these funds through our Restoration Funding Program. Through this program, I am proposing that we invest $5 million of the $8.5 million returned in two primary areas: 1) $3.5 million in street and sidewalk improvements and 2) $1.5 million for the ash tree mitigation effort.
The $3.5 million infusion of resources dedicated to neighborhood streets will more than double the amount of work that our Department of Public Works crews can accomplish this year. The city budget had already dedicated $2 million to street and road projects. With this addition, the expanded total is $5.5 million. This means that paving, repair and resurfacing work will be done on 42 miles of our roadways, most of which are in residential areas.
Highlights of the 2012 street and road improvements’ program include current projects on Old Auburn Road and Lake Avenue, safety projects on Jefferson Boulevard at Taylor Street, Covington Road at Dicke Road and Leesburg Road at Spring Street, more than 30 concrete projects and many paving projects.
In Waynedale, residential street improvements are planned this year for Wenonah Lane, between Ojibway Trail to Wendigo Lane, Bluffton Road, between Lower Huntington Road and Liberty Drive; on Bluffton Road, between Engle Road and Brooklyn Avenue; Covington Road, from Freeman Street to McKinley Avenue; Winchester Road, between Airport Expressway and Mayflower Road; Strathmore Street, between Ontario Street and Covington Road; Koester Drive, between Lower Huntington Road and Rehm Drive and Koons Street, between Elzy Street and Bradbury Avenue.
In addition to the street and roads funding, we will invest $1.5 million in our ongoing fight to preserve our tree canopy and overcome the impact of the Emerald Ash Borer.
You may remember that in 2008 we introduced our 10-year plan to address the Emerald Ash Borer situation. With our latest investment, we will have removed 10,500 or about 80% of the diseased trees from our park strips and City-owned property. To date, we’ve replaced 3,155 trees and will continue pressing forward in the near future.
The Restoration Funding Program is great news for our neighborhoods and it yields positive economic news as well. The 2012 projects will use local contractors and create construction jobs. It is estimated that an extra 200 jobs, beyond the number spurred by the actual project work, will be supported by the increased economic activity generated.
I’m glad we can invest this money in a way that will strengthen our neighborhoods. For a complete list of the street projects for 2012 visit our website at www.cityoffortwayne.org/streets2012