Riberia Street improvement project

Lincolnville residents have a lot of concerns about the long-awaited Riberia Street improvement project, and now they’ll be able to track plans and progress on the city’s website according to the St. Augustine Report this week.

Updates will be provided on the project, scheduled to begin with Phase I from King to Bridge Street.

City officials have laid out a five-phase, $9 million project, beginning with the King to Bridge Street stretch, for which $3.1 million is already in place. Following two previous workshops, another is planned for mid-June to outline detour plans.

Here’s some detail on the project:

The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), established years back to fund the city’s parking and traffic mess, has legally-set boundaries – along Riberia the limit is two blocks south of Bridge. The CRA collects tax increment funds – the increases in property taxes from its date of establishment in both city and county taxes. Those CRA funds can only be used in that CRA area.

Engineering: Project engineers said the plan has to include storm water discharge from an 80-acre area, draining west from ML King and south from King into the soft underlayment of Riberia. That dictates starting at the north end. Collection areas and outfalls in each project phase are designed to prevent flooding.

Funding: While hopes for a state grant and federal stimulus funding have dimmed, the city is pursuing a federal Community Development Block Grant (CBDG). As with the others, we’ll be competing with other cities and hoping for higher ranking.

Traffic control: Some suggested speed humps, more enforcement, and stop signs to control traffic. There are already pretty effective speed humps in the pockmarked street. A primary speeding time is when kids are on their way to and from school, and both city and county officers are busy controlling traffic around schools. And studies show that stop signs result in motorists speeding up to make up time after a stop.

Timing: However we’re able to proceed, the complete project will take at least five years. Longtime Lincolnville leader Linda James left one workshop shaking her head. “They explained the project very well,” she said. “It’s going to take time. We’ve been waiting a long time, but particularly with flooding, we’ve seen great improvements over the years. “These folks (critical residents) have to accept that it will take time to do it right.”

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