If the City of Cody receives a federal transportation grant, a portion of its leftover fifth-penny sales tax could go toward making areas safer for students and others who walk or bike to and from Cody schools.
The hope is to fund the 2020 ADA Ramps and Pedestrian Improvements Project with money available through the Transportation Alternatives Program administered by the Wyoming Department of Transportation.
WYDOT receives about $2 million annually to distribute throughout the state. TAP funding is limited at $500,000 per project. With a 20 percent local match of $100,000, a grant recipient could fund a $600,000 project.
Cody is seeking $400,000 in federal funds with a 25 percent match of $100,000.
“We could accomplish a lot with this fund and maximize our (tax) dollars,” said public works director Phillip Bowman at a recent city council meeting.
Schools meet criteria
One scoring criteria on the grant application considers whether improvements are within a set distance of school zones and school crossings. Bowman proposes to upgrade curb ramps to ADA standards near Cody High School, Cody Middle School and Eastside School.
The $500,000 proposal also addresses sidewalk gaps along the south side of Cougar between CMS and Mentock Park, including a significant area lacking sidewalk by the Shadow Mountain Subdivision directly across the middle school grounds.
Bowman said this stretch is heavily used by students who have created a “beaten path” as they walk from a nearby apartment building and the subdivision.
If the state awards the grant, and depending on whether there’s enough money, a push-button activated flashing crosswalk light at CMS is possible, Bowman said. This would be similar to the one WYDOT installed by City Park and the high school at Sheridan and 10th.
This would be a “best case scenario” should Cody receive full funding and everything is in line with final designs and estimates, Bowman said.
Of higher priority are street crossings by the high school such as the intersection at Ninth and Beck near the gyms where bulb-outs would improve pedestrian safety by extending the sidewalk into the street. Such curb extensions increase pedestrian visibility, narrow the street, shorten the crossing distances and slow turning vehicles.
“That would really clean that (crosswalk) up to make it pedestrian friendly,” he said.
On July 16, by unanimous vote, city councilors agreed to increase the city’s grant request.
Originally, city staff estimated the proposed pedestrian improvements at about $400,000. In April the council OK’d a grant application seeking $320,000 in TAP monies with a 25 percent local match of $80,000.
Offering 25 percent rather than the 20 percent standard could give Cody a competitive edge over other applications, Bowman said.
After initial submissions and input from WYDOT, further evaluation and staff estimates upped the Cody school project total to $500,000.
Bowman asked to add $80,000 to the grant, upping the amount sought to $400,000. In turn, the 25 percent local cash match increased by $20,000 for a total $100,000 city contribution.
“This leverages our dollars even further,” the public works director said.
Bowman said Cody has $80,000 in 1-cent sales tax money left over from its city-wide ADA ramp project now in the second of two phases.
The proposed TAP grant project is a continuation of the city’s current ADA ramps projects, he said.
“We feel it’s an appropriate use of the 1-percent special purpose tax remainder as part of our match,” he said.
The remaining $20,000 would come from a streets maintenance fund within the city’s general fund budget.
Prior to the vote, councilor Glenn Nielson, expressing a concern about inflated costs, asked if – as with other projects – 20 percent of the construction cost would go to engineering.
Bowman said WYDOT recommends 10-20 percent. He calculated 10 percent of the $400,000 construction cost for engineering-design and another 10 percent for construction oversight. A 5 percent contingency of $20,000 is also built into the project estimate. The 25 percent puts the project total at $500,000.
WYDOT should make a decision in late summer or early fall. If funding is awarded, it’s likely project design would start around March. Construction would commence late summer or fall of 2020.