TYLER TEXAS — The city of Tyler is seeking to increase spending on public infrastructure projects in the upcoming fiscal year, according to a preliminary budget.

The Tyler City Council voted on Wednesday to open public comment on a preliminary version of Half Cent Sales Tax Corp.’s upcoming fiscal year 2019 budget.

The Half Cent Sales Tax Corp. is a city-run entity that makes recommendations to the City Council on how the city should spend revenue from the city’s half-percent sales tax that is imposed within city limits.

The draft fiscal year 2019 budget calls for $27.4 million in spending on infrastructure projects. That’s nearly four times the $7.1 million the Half Cent Sales Tax Corp. is forecasted to spend in the current fiscal year.

Scott Taylor, the managing director of utilities and public works for the city of Tyler, said the amount of money spent on infrastructure each year varies based on the projects and which stages they are in.

There are about a dozen projects scheduled to be funded by the Half Cent Sales Tax Corp.’s preliminary budget for fiscal year 2019, which starts Oct. 1.

Some of the projects—such as construction of two new fire stations, upgrades to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., and a bicycle striping project—are already underway. There are also new projects, including a proposed study to overhaul the city’s traffic signals.

Taylor said the project to replace traffic signals citywide would have a big impact on the city, and received the highest rating of nearly 200 projects in a process city staff used to prioritize infrastructure projects.

“We’re trying to look at something called adaptive traffic management where the signals are communicating with each other and there’s the ability to make changes based on traffic and things like that,” Taylor said.

The plan also calls for continuing the project to build two new fire stations. One would combine station Nos. 1 and 4, which are on Elm Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard, respectively, into a new fire station No. 1 near the intersection of West Gentry Parkway and Palace Avenue.

The other new fire station, which would be the new No. 4, would be in a rapidly growing area of the southern part of the city and serve neighborhoods near Jack Elementary School, Three Lakes Middle School, and the area around Fresh by Brookshire’s on Old Jacksonville Highway.

The project to upgrade Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard would improve pedestrian access, bicycle access, and lighting. Taylor said the project will give the neighborhood a new look and revitalize the area.

The bicycle striping project would paint bike lanes on city roads and connect the three colleges. The city is paying the University of Texas at Tyler to design the project, and the Texas Department of Transportation is funding the construction.

Mark Whatley, the chairman of Half Cent Sales Tax Board, said he’s excited about all the projects, but mostly about the traffic signal study.

“Some of these things (funded by the Half Cent Sales Tax Corporation) are great but you don’t get a lot of tangible benefits,” Whatley said.

“But when you’re talking about fire stations, roads, and signals to make Broadway (Avenue) better, those are things everybody gets excited about,” he said.

A copy of the Half Cent Sales Tax Corp.’s project list is available at TylerPaper.com. Public comments can be submitted here.

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