Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Salem projects aim to ease traffic tie-ups
Officials hope to ease the lack of major east-west streets.
SALEM Council voted to take two steps one of which was considered for about 30 years to ease traffic congestion on the city's east side.
The projects are estimated to cost about $1 million, which will be paid for with city notes and bonds.
Service Director Joe Julian said he hoped work would begin this fall and would be completed in 2008.
Separate projects will be done south and north of East State Street.
In the southern move, officials said they will extend East Pershing Street east of Southeast Boulevard. Southeast runs north and south.
Pershing Street now ends at Southeast, but an access road on the east side of Southeast leads to the Giant Eagle parking lot.
Julian said that Pershing would go south 150 feet south on Southeast, and would then go east 1,260 feet onto undeveloped property, and end.
Trying to extend Pershing has been debated since the 1970s, Julian said.
Councilman Clyde Brown voted against the Pershing extension, saying city ordinances require a turnaround for dead-end streets that is not in the plan.
At a later date, Julian said, Pershing could be extended farther to the east to Butcher and Cunningham Roads. That move would ease traffic going to the Wal-Mart Super Store.
The owner of the property blocking the connection with Butcher and Cunningham Roads does not want to sell now, Julian said.
North of State Street, the second step will extend Cunningham Road 320 feet north of its present dead end. Bentley Drive, which runs east and west, will be extended 380 feet east to connect to Cunningham Road.
The move would help provide traffic access from the north side of town.
Julian said he hoped to open bids in October and to be able to tell contractors to begin immediately.
Council agreed to use tax increment financing for the project. Under the plan, some 75 percent of property taxes for 10 years would go to paying off the notes for roads, water lines and sewers.
Bill Hannay, a city resident, told council he thought developers should pay for the work instead of having the strapped city pay for it.
"I didn't get any answers," he said after the meeting.