City officials are hoping to tap into federal dollars to help improve roads and sidewalks across Bluefield.
Bluefield was awarded a $497,550 grant in February from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Safe Streets and Roads for All program. The funding will be used to launch the city’s Safe Streets for All Action Plan. A notice to proceed on the project was received on Aug. 15, according to Paul Mattox with the engineering firm E.L. Robinson.
Mattox, a former highway commissioner for West Virginia, delivered a presentation to the Bluefield Board of Directors Tuesday on the plan, which seeks to identify transportation safety concerns within Bluefield.
“We must have this action plan in place by year’s end so we can move forward,” Mattox said of the Safe Streets for All Action initiative.
As part of the effort, a steering committee will be created to meet with stakeholders across the city, and at least two community meetings will be scheduled. Data on roadway, sidewalk and other transportation concerns will be collected through social media and public engagement, Mattox said.
An online survey has already been launched on the city’s Facebook page where citizens can provide input on transportation safety issues within their neighborhoods. Those who participate in the online survey are required to provide their name and email address and a short description of their transportation safety concern, which can include anything from sidewalks and crosswalks to flooding on streets and street lighting.
Mattox said officials hope to have a draft report ready by November, which will then allow the city to seek additional federal dollars.
City Manager Cecil Marson is urging citizens and all stakeholders across the city to participate in the process over the next several months.
“This is a really big team effort,” Marson said. “We really need the community input. This is our chance to do some big work.”
The federal government is making millions of dollars available, and the city hopes to “go after” some of that money, Marson said.
Already a number of potential transportation projects have been identified, including West Cumberland Drive, Bland Street, Maryland Avenue, Cherry Street, Stadium Drive, Highland Avenue, Bluefield Avenue and other areas.
“It is a part of the Build Back Better and infrastructure bill,” Marson said, “so it is quite sizable.”
Marson said the city will work with the engineering firm to develop the local master plan.
“So we will have a very good plan,” he said. “A safety action plan that will allow the city to apply for all of these grants to tackle all of those challenges we have with city roads and sidewalks.”