News Column

Citywide street fixes ordered

June 27, 2014

By Michael J. Williams, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.

June 27--Plagued by chronic complaints about roadway conditions, Lake Elsinore is embarking on an ambitious citywide street improvement plan that will be financed by a bond issue raising $5 million to $6 million.

The money will enable the city to fix or improve about 225 streets within the next two years while launching more than a dozen crucial transportation projects, Administrative Services Director Jason Simpson told the City Council on Tuesday.

"We are behind (in maintenance) right now and a lot of those streets do need (to be) repaired," Simpson said.

Major projects include installation of a southbound deceleration lane at the Interstate 15 offramp to Railroad Canyon Road, improvements at the I-5 interchanges at Main Street and Central Avenue, and the repaving of Mission Trail.

"I just see it as a way to step into getting some major things done with our streets," Simpson said. "There is a cost to doing that. ... But this really, I think, will help stimulate a lot of things for the community."

Despite reservations about the length and cost of the 25-year financing plan, a majority of the council members bit the bullet on the municipal bond issuance because of anticipated long-range dividends as well as a low interest rate of about 4.5 percent.

The city will use about $500,000 of its annual $1.1 million share of transportation sales tax revenue to repay the the bond.

"I think you strike while the iron's hot," Councilman Steve Manos said. "We do this and it virtually guarantees that we'll have better roads than we've ever had before."

Preparing for the issuance will take a couple of months and the bonds -- municipal certificates of participation -- should go on the market in September, a consultant told the council.

While Manos, Councilman Daryl Hickman and Mayor Natasha Johnson voted for the plan, Councilmen Bob Magee and Brian Tisdale opposed it because they wanted more detailed assurances of the plan's financial viability.

"I'm frankly having sticker shock with the numbers I've heard," Magee said.

After the vote, however, both emphasized they support moving ahead with the street improvements and projects.

Doing the road improvements in the near future will reduce ongoing maintenance costs in years to come, city administrators assured the council.

"A dollar spent today on pavement saves you up to $5 in the future," City Manager Grant Yates said.

As a collateral benefit, enhanced curbside appeal should make the city more enticing to investors.

"Six million dollars of roads is a huge impact from an economic development standpoint," said President Kim Cousins of the Lake Elsinore Valley Chamber of Commerce. "It's important for us to have great-looking gateways into the city. I'm thrilled that it got approved."


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Source: Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA)

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