Calexico considers paving, linking dead-end dirt roads

July 06, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — If this weekend brings wind and rain, Calexicans living near dirt roads or dirt lots will have to deal with sandstorms and muddy roads.

To address residents' concerns, city officials will discuss paving and linking the dead end dirt roads near the downtown railroad tracks and working with developers to develop the dirt lots throughout the city, said City Manager Richard Inman.

"In the near future I'm going to pull together a number of staff and look at what needs to be improved in the city," Inman said Thursday.

Roadways city officials will discuss include Sheridan, McKinley and Sherman streets, which all dead end at the railroad tracks. Sheridan and McKinley are broken again west of the tracks by a dirt lot.


That lot — full of trash and edged by graffiti — cuts Sheridan in two.

After discussion with city staff, Inman plans to bring prioritized transportation projects to the City Council for public discussion.

After hearing from the public and the council, the projects approved will be paid for with 2001-2002 Measure D funds.

According to the county Public Works Department, Calexico stands to receive an estimated $1,195,927 in Measure D revenue from the county's half-cent gas tax. The previous year's Measure D revenue is divvied at the beginning of each fiscal year among each city in the county.

Mayor Victor Carrillo said around $600,000 coming this fiscal year is earmarked to pay off a 1996 bond sale.

That sale was set up by Henry Legaspi, city manager at the time. It provided the city with $7 million used to overlay streets and fix cracks.

After the $600,000 is set aside this year to pay down the 1996 debt, the rest of the Measure D money, $500,000 or so, will be divided between projects requested by residents, developers and city staff.

"In the last two years we've fixed 27 miles of city streets in the city of Calexico. They were assessed as the ones that were the first priorities," Carrillo said.

He added he'd be willing to look at improving, "if need be, whatever streets the Planning Department recommends."

Ricardo Hinojosa, city planning director, would like to have public hearings to determine what streets will be fixed.

Along with other roadways, he has focused on the dusty dead end streets of Sherman and Sheridan because of residents' comments. They've told him dust storms make life uncomfortable.

"There should be public hearings and resident input would be solicited to identify streets that need to be fixed," Hinojosa said.

He added, "People should not have to live in front of a dirt road."

A particular point of contention for Hinojosa is the "school crossing" that Vincent Memorial High School students use to get to Sheridan Street from homes east of the tracks.

"Facing east on Sheridan there is a school crossing. Kids have to jump over the rails to get to the other side. If that isn't warranted to fix, then what is?" Hinojosa asked.

Inman said the Sheridan "crossing" is one of the areas that will be discussed and then brought before the council for review.

The dirt lot that divides Sheridan is another matter.

"That road is going to be a developer responsibility," Hinojosa said.

The concerns of those who live along Sheridan make using Measure D funds difficult, according to Hinojosa.

Residents who live near the dirt lot might want to see the city help a developer build homes and streets there to negate that blight. Residents who live near the tracks might want to see a proper school crossing built.

Hinojosa said that's why he thinks Measure D moneys should be divvied by residents at public hearings.

"The intent of the ordinance was to repair and upgrade existing street systems. But that's the rub. If you do, you take it away from new developments," Hinojosa said.

Years ago the City Council passed a resolution that called for hearings such as Hinojosa advocates.

From City Council minutes of Sept. 3, 1996: "A motion was made by Mayor Pro Tem John Renison and passed unanimously to direct the Planning Commission to hold public hearings on all street improvement projects adopted by administration."

"It never happened," Hinojosa said.

Armando Zuniga, chairman of the city Planning Commission, said the commission sends recommendations to the council for approval when developers request Measure D assistance.

"Our job is to make sure developers aren't trying to gyp the city," Zuniga said.

Other transportation issues, such as the repair or paving of existing streets, are handled by city staff, he said.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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