1st Street paving plan finally getting attention it deserves

A proposal talked about for years in Aurora is getting lots of attention these days, though plans to pave 1st Street are not yet chiseled in concrete.
With the steady arrival of new single-family homes in the Lincoln Creek housing subdivision and across the street east toward Streeter Park over the past 15 years, what previously looked like and functioned as a county road has by use and definition become a city street as well. It’s time to figure out how to make it official and pave this stretch of road from Highway 34 north to the bridge.
The cost to do that is estimated to be near $1 million, though the final figure is not yet known. A story in this week’s edition explains several pieces of the puzzle which must fall into place in order for the project to proceed. Those pieces include annexing rights-of-way on the east side of 1st Street north of Terry Road; nailing down specifications and hard cost estimates to pave the street; and forming a street improvement district to allow citizens most impacted by this project to have a say in the process.
That last piece will be critical, since property owners along 1st Street will be assessed a one-time fee to help pave the way. That makes sense to a degree, though city leaders should be mindful that there is a limit to how much individual homeowners can be expected to pay to build a street. All the nice new homes that create traffic along that street also generate property taxes in perpetuity, so the city will and should cover the lion’s share of the cost.
County officials also have a vested interest in this project since traffic, estimated at more than 1,100 vehicles a week, will include a number of ag-related vehicles coming from the north, many of them hauling heavy loads. The county has agreed to fund two additional inches of concrete on the road, making it nine inches deep, though there is a recent local history lesson that should not be forgotten.
Madison Avenue, which connects Highway 14 to the Woodard Subdivision at Aurora’s I-80 interchange, broke down within the first few years and had to be rebuilt -- an expensive mistake -- simply because engineers did not accurately factor in how much heavy truck traffic would be involved. The interlocal agreement being negotiated for the 1st Street project suggests there will be no weight limit on the road, so we would hope engineers are being directed to build this street/road to last, knowing full well it’s going to get hard and heavy use.
There are many questions yet to be answered, though we applaud city and county leaders for tackling this overdue project. Citizens should be tuning in as well and let their voices be heard during public hearings expected within the next two months.
Kurt Johnson

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