SALEM Council approves plan to ease traffic congestion
The project is intended to give motorists an alternate route.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
SALEM -- Work is expected to begin this spring on a $1.4 million project aimed at easing traffic congestion in the city's east side commercial district.
City council agreed Tuesday to authorize the undertaking.
Plans call for widening and extending East Third Street eastward to Roosevelt Avenue.
Also planned is extending Bentley Drive from Roosevelt Avenue east to Continental Drive. Roosevelt also would be rebuilt as part of the project.
East Third and Bentley run east and west and are north of and parallel to East State Street.
East State is the main thoroughfare through the city's east-side commercial district. Traffic there already is heavy and is expected to increase with the opening today of a Wal-Mart along East State Street.
The street project is intended to give motorists an alternate route instead of being forced to rely on East State Street, city officials have said.
Opposed to project
When the project was announced late last year, many Third Street residents voiced opposition to the undertaking.
They said extending Third Street, which is a dead end, will make the residential street busier. That, in turn, will endanger children and decrease home values.
City officials have disagreed with those concerns.
The project will be paid for through a loan, which will be paid back through the city's capital improvement fund.
Work is expected to take about seven months to complete, said service Director Joe Julian.
Rates paid by residents and businesses outside the city who use Salem municipal water may be increased later this year, Utilities Superintendent Don Weingart told council.
The city utilities commission is considering a rate boost to raise additional revenue.
The city has two water rates, one for customers inside the city limits and one for those outside city limits.
The inside rate is 25 percent less than the outside rate, which has a typical family paying about $37.50 per month for water.
Any rate increase would apply only to the outside rate, Weingart said.
Councilwoman Nancy Cope, R-at-large, said the city finance committee is considering recommending that the city borrow about $350,000 to pay for a new firetruck.
The fire department needs a new pumper truck to replace a 1975 model now in use, Cope explained.