Road Construction Planned, but Other Factors Impact Timing - February 26, 2017
Hearing complaints about what the city is or is not doing is common. The council members, I and the staff hear regularly from residents.
Probably the issue that we hear the most concerns about is construction on our city streets. Did you know that we have 800 miles of center line roads within our city limits? Somehow we have to take care of all of that, and it can be really frustrating when so much is going on at once, especially if it is in your own neighborhood.
I am often asked why we don’t try to better coordinate what we do or if we have any kind of plan. Absolutely we do. A significant part of that planning effort is in the 2014 Comprehensive Transportation Plan. Beginning with a citizen survey, it analyzed and prioritized the city’s future transportation needs. The plan is based on research and input from residents, staff and industry experts.
It includes information about autos, freight, emergency vehicles, mass transit, aviation, bike and pedestrian needs. It is updated periodically. It is the basis for establishing our funding needs from local, state and federal sources.
Our plan is so well prepared that we having been receiving a greater percentage of the money from the federal government than any other city in our region. Many of our big projects are paid for with 80 percent federal funds and 20 percent local matches. The plan takes into account many variables.
So why does construction seem so chaotic at times? We do plan and try to think ahead of each eventuality, but there are a number of parts of the process over which we have limited control.
Each road project is dependent on a variety of factors, which includes writing proposals for funding, being approved for funding, getting bids, coordinating with ODOT, hiring contractors, dealing with weather, school schedules and emergencies. We are a growing city and our infrastructure has to be updated and maintained.
Often, it causes inconveniences and delays, but to just allow our infrastructure to deteriorate would be worse. Deteriorating roads are annoying, too. Progress, unfortunately, is often painful. Even when I am frustrated driving through town, I am glad that so much is being done to upgrade our transportation system, and I try to look ahead to the improvements when the construction is completed.
Our website has a map of current construction projects, and we are hopeful we may be able to provide even better information through our future website upgrades or even an app. We are always evaluating ways to better inform the public, and information could eventually even include alerts.
As mayor, in addition to fielding questions and complaints, I get to do many positive things. One of my favorites is the opportunities we have to recognize the good work of our employees. I am always impressed when the Municipal League recognizes our 25-year employees, which occurred at a recent council meeting.
There were 15 of them. Later, I discovered we also do an internal recognition of longtime employees. I would like to highlight two recently recognized employees who have been serving the city of Norman for more than 40 years.
Ken Danner has been with the planning department for 47 years and Martha Lipps has been in finance for 45 years. Ken is a second-generation city employee, walks to work and home every day and apparently is so valuable they won’t let him retire. Martha arrives early, stays late and works weekends when needed. Her dedication and work ethic is credited with allowing treasury services to go 15 years without any employee turnover.
These employees and others like them are PUBLIC SERVANTS in the truest sense.
Contact Mayor Miller via email or at 366-5402.