At their meeting Thursday evening, the Lubbock City Council gave approval to City staff to submit a proposal to the State for extra funding for North University improvements.

The group of six approved for City staff to apply for possible TxDOT funding of the North University Enhancement Project. Mayor Glen Robertson was absent from the meeting, leaving it to be chaired by Mayor Pro Tem and District 5 Councilwoman Karen Gibson.

Each year, TxDOT can issue extra funds for Transportation Enhancement Projects, which are dedicated for extra improvements to pedestrian and bicycle areas, scenic easements, and more.

The total statewide funding available is $70 million, and the City hopes that some of the funds might go to the City of Lubbock to bolster funds already allocated for the North University Enhancement Project.

The City has $768,978 allocated for the project from bonds previously passed by voters, and staff will apply for an extra $478,000 from the State, bringing the total to more than $1,244,000. After expenses, including 15 percent for TxDOT’s administrative fees, the total construction budget would be nearly $881,000, if the City was selected to receive the funds. .

Staff presented options for the Council to consider for the enhancement project, including what improvements would be made to the area, and what area the project would span.

They decided that improving both sides of the street would be best, and to make enhancements to the area such as sidewalk improvements, curb and gutter replacements, driveway work, alley returns, and ramps for the disabled.

City Chief Operations Officer Marsha Reed laid out some possibilities and associated costs. In order to make comparable improvements to North University as were done along Glenna Goodacre Blvd., staff estimated a cost of around $1.68 million, well out of the City’s budget for the project. Staff estimates that the entire project would cost around $1.3 million, so they will have to do around half of the original plan.

The Council had a list of enhancements to choose from for recommendation into the City’s proposal to the State, but Reed advised avoiding including trees, irrigation, and other plantings, as they would require more maintenance. Also, certain enhancements would have a greater chance of approval from the State.

The area of North University which would receive the enhancements would stretch from the Marsha Sharp Freeway to the 100 block of University Avenue, ending near the United Amigos location, which would cover about half a mile.

The deadline for the City to have the project proposal into the state is November 16th of this year. The deadline leaves so little time that the City brought in Parkhill, Smith, and Cooper to help with the planning for the proposal, particularly schematic layouts. Staff is expected to have the project proposal ready for the Council to consider at their November 8th meeting.

The project proposal could be selected or rejected by the Texas Transportation Commission as late as July of 2013.