City's reconstruction of East Fifth Street lauded by the FederalHighway Administration for its use of certain fees

The rehabilitation project on East Fifth Street in Newberg has been recognized by the Federal Highway Administration for its innovation in using certain fees.

The project, which runs from River to Wynooski street, was funded by a transportation utility fee adopted by the city in 2017.

City Manager Joe Hannan explained that it is a fee that residents pay monthly and it was recognized by the feds because cities across the country are struggling to find revenue sources to pay for street projects, with most projects ultimately failing to go to bid.

According to the federal agency's description of the project, Newberg had already planned to "replace a wastewater line along the route and decided to coordinate reconstruction of the street with that project. The street had been rated in poor condition and included sidewalks and curbs below standard. Reconstruction involved removal of existing pavement, over-grading the subgrade, and installation of nine inches of crushed rock over the base. The new three-inch thick asphalt surface is an improvement over the prior two-inch surface atop four inches of loosely placed rock. The project included new catch basins and reconstructed sidewalk ramps that meet current ADA standards."

Community Development Coordinator Doug Rux said the federal government decided to highlight the city's use of the transportation utility fee to make road improvements, as they are funds generated on an annual basis.

Hannan said the agency highlighted Newberg because they hadn't seen a city utilize those funds like that before.

"They hadn't seen that other places," Hannan said.

According to the Federal Highway Administration website, "A 2015 funding analysis had shown a significant shortfall to properly maintain pavement condition city-wide and increase overall pavement condition index that had been decreasing in recent years. By 2016, available annual revenues of $600,000 from existing state gas tax receipts and federal funds exchange fell far short of the projected $2.5 million needed. In response, the city adopted a (transportation utility fee) to generate an estimated $1.2 million annually to help close the $1.9 million gap. The city settled upon a "variable fee within class" rate model, with three residential (35 percent of revenues) and six non-residential (65 percent of revenues) rate classes. The revenue allocation allows a maximum of 70 percent to go toward preservation of streets rated in good to fair condition, and a minimum of 30 percent to reconstruct streets rated in poor to very poor condition."

The project cost was $1,055,959. More than $685,000 came from the transportation utility fees, while nearly $337,400 came from gas tax receipts.

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