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Five-year plan by Gresham City Council focuses on street repairs, safety improvements.

FILE PHOTO - A city of Gresham crew works to repave a road after damage caused from last winter's severe weather.The Gresham City Council met with staff during its Tuesday, Nov. 14, policy development meeting to discuss the city's transportation investment priorities with a focus on what resources are available to fund those initiatives.

The three goals for Gresham are to maintain and preserve the existing system, mitigate congestion and improve safety. A five-year plan prioritizes projects and funding sources.

"I feel we are in a better position today than in the past to meet these challenges (to our roads)," said Steve Fancher, director of Environmental Services.

Revenue to support the road repairs comes from the state gas tax, local utility fees, system development charges and grants. Another new source of funding comes via House Bill 2017, which was approved by the Legislature in the last session.

Though the City Council doesn't need to set a spending plan for HB 2017 at this time, staff has estimated how the money could be used. The majority could be directed towards enhancing local street reconstruction, arterial road maintenance and reducing traffic. Some of the money could also be used to support better sidewalks and crosswalks.

Gresham's Local Street Reconstruction Program has been in action for one year, and city staff said they are already hearing positive responses from the community.

"Residents have been very happy as we repair streets that have been torn up for many years," Fancher said.

The program will use 10 years of funding to complete the work within the five-year time frame. By the end the city will have completed $32 million in road repairs and $10 million in installing American with Disabilities Act (ADA) curb ramps. The work will be completed across the city.

In the past five years, the city of Gresham averaged $3.5 million spending on transportation projects. That is expected to increase to an average of $12 million per year in the coming five years.

"It's going to be busy out there, but there are many things coming," Fancher said.

In addition to the repairs, plans are to deal with congestions problems at key intersections like Southeast 223rd Street and Southeast Stark Street, and adding seven rectangular rapid flashing beacons to assist with crosswalks with flashing lights that alert drivers to crossing pedestrians.

"For the first time, it feels like there are resources available to get these projects done," said Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis.

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