Wake up, Bob: Two-way street conversions for 400K … now get the hell out of the way.


Jeff penned this yesterday as a Facebook comment, after someone asked (paraphrased), “What’s the price tag for two-way street conversions, and how much is the city’s share?”

The answer has been repeated numerous times already, most often by Jeff, but periodically by city officials standing in front of real-life, dozing council members.

It bears a 41st hearing today owing to the predictable reluctance of New Albany’s Unreconstructed Caesarites to pay attention when it was said the first 40 times.

How’d they ever make it through school?

New Albany currently has access to an approximately $2 million federal grant specifically earmarked for two-way reclamation. To capture those funds we need a 20% local match, about $400K. That’s roughly what we’ve been spending on sidewalk repair each year. Noteworthy is that the entire two-way project would occur in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) eligible area. Those are the funds we usually use for sidewalk repair each year and street projects are an eligible use of those federal funds as well. They are replenished by the feds every year. In other words, there’s at least a chance we could pay for the whole two-way thing without spending local money at all.

As was also mentioned, several of us were told for years that upgrading the traffic signal electronics would be the single largest expense within a two-way project. Via the federal stimulus a few years ago, though, New Albany received about $900K to upgrade them and did. Those new metal boxes at a lot of the intersections? That’s what those are– the upgraded electronics already in place. There may still be some signal expense in terms of programming them, but I was told by city planners that the $900K covered the bulk of what was needed.

From there, we have to figure out exactly how to create the lanes themselves. Before the City decided to spend a lot more on a median and extras, there was a low build, low cost option pitched for Main Street a few years ago that included exactly what you’d expect: paint. Two auto lanes, two bike lanes, and two parking lanes for the whole length of the street between Vincennes and State. Estimated cost: $5,500.

That’s not a typo.

The short answer is $400,000. That will get us an additional $2 million which should be more than enough to cover the whole thing. Since the $2 mil is federal transportation money, it can’t be used for jobs creation or other activities, although it’s certainly arguable that creating a more business/neighborhood friendly street grid is related to that. If anyone wants to go down the spending comparison road, it might be helpful to look at the $9 million aquatics center, which will impact far fewer people only during limited parts of the year and is being paid for with local money we actually could use for multiple purposes.

But, then, we’ve already said that 30 or 40 times.