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County to talk about road money

by Jeff Munson

Douglas County commissioners agreed Thursday to re-prioritize transportation money to come up with about $500,000 to fix Upper Parkway Road behind Harrah’s and Caesars in Stateline.

The county road, which runs 3/4 of a mile along a hillside, has roughly $1.5 million already earmarked for repairs. The additional $500,000 is needed to begin the project, which could ultimately cost $3 million, said Community Development Director Bob Nunes.

Underlying the request, however, is a broader issue of how the county is going to chip away at $9 million worth of work on a $3 million annual budget.

Talk of a 5-cent gas tax has surfaced and some county officials believe it could be an option.

While priorities can change, as is the case with the Upper Parkway Road project, the commissioners indicated they need to look in the long term.

“Road maintenance issues are not going to go away,” said commissioner Steve Weissinger. “I don’t support spending money for a chip-seal that will deteriorate in six months.”

Commissioners asked county transportation officials to look within their budget to find money for the Upper Parkway project and return with a recommendation at the March 15 commission meeting.

County Manager Dan Holler briefly outlined the history of road funding mechanisms in Douglas County and where the county stands in terms of available money.

Nunes said county roads will remain in a state of “Band-Aid” repair unless more money becomes available.

“We need to know what level the community is willing to pay for and the funding options available out there,” Nunes said. “We should not let it get to a point where there is major congestion. We want to have a plan in place before it gets to that point.”

Weissinger has suggested creating a committee to look at a possible 5-cent a gallon gas tax.

The issue will be discussed in more detail at the March 15 meeting when the county plans to review and possibly approve the 5-year transportation plan.