Bedford is launching an ambitious $28.8 million plan to improve streets and boost economic development in the city where the roads have been neglected over time.
The cost for the improvements is around $16.5 million for thoroughfares and $12.3 million for neighborhood streets.
Mayor Michael Boyter said that the streets are “a mess” and have been that way for years.
“We’re getting really aggressive about economic development now, and we’re looking for potential partnerships with developers,” he said.
Boyter said Bedford is also looking at creating “economic development zones” on some streets including Bedford Road and Brown Trail.
On June 22, the city council unanimously approved a five-year capital improvement plan to fix the aging major thoroughfares and neighborhood streets throughout Bedford. Some of the thoroughfares are Forest Ridge Drive, Harwood Road and Bedford Road. The work will also include replacing water and sewer lines, sidewalks and traffic signals.
Boyter said that the Economic Development Corporation’s 4B board, which oversees the use of the sales tax, discussed the more ambitious approach which involves paying for the repairs with certificates of obligation bonds. The debt will be repaid with funds from a half-cent sales tax to take the burden from property owners, he said.
The certificates of obligation will be used to pay for thoroughfare improvements while money from the city’s budget will go toward fixing the neighborhood streets.
Work is already underway on Harwood Road where the water and sewer lines are being replaced, and the road repair work should start next summer, Boyter said.
Previously, Bedford was using cash to pay for street repairs which meant the city was spending $2 million to $3 million a year, which meant it would take around 30 years to fix the streets and thoroughfares.
“We were constantly kicking the can down the road,” Boyter said. “This is a big deal. We’ve got a lot of things going on. I want people driving through here to see streets up to date.”
Bedford’s engineering department prioritized streets that are over 40 years old. There are 65 neighborhood “street segments” that are in the improvement plan along with the thoroughfares, according to information on the city’s website.
All of the thoroughfare projects listed in the plan were submitted to Tarrant County for possible inclusion in the transportation bond package that will be on the ballot in November.
Long-time resident Roger Gallenstein said he is pleased that Bedford is taking a serious look at its streets.
“The streets definitely need improvement. It’s not in just one area. It’s across the city,” he said.