Division Street is scheduled for resurfacing between National Avenue and Glenstone Avenue in 2022, at an estimated cost of about $4.69 million. (Photo by Rance Burger)

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A small but crucial stretch of Division Street is likely to be repaved at a cost of about $4.69 million.

On April 18, the Springfield City Council will consider giving final approval to a contract to rebuild Division Street from National Avenue to Glenstone Avenue. Hartman and Company Inc., submitted a low bid of $4,689,870.65 for the project to resurface the street and rebuild sidewalks and stormwater control measures.

“If you’ve driven that, you’ve noticed that that road really is basically worn out — pavement in terrible condition, but really the sidewalks are not good, the stormwater is not good,” said Springfield Director of Public Works Dan Smith.

The section of Division Street to be improved is about seven-tenths of a mile long and runs along the north side of the Evangel University Campus. It serves Smith Park, a Boys and Girls Club location, the Creative Start Learning Center and Crosstown Barbecue, among other businesses.

Smith Park is a key part of the plan to make improvements for pedestrians who travel along Division Street.

“On the north side, the sidewalk is improved to ADA standards, a 5-foot sidewalk,” Smith said. “On the south side, it would be a 10-foot multi-use path there along the park, so a nice improvement.” 

A large asphalt patch sits on the south side lane of Division Street in front of Smith Park, a temporary solution to a pothole in the aging pavement. (Photo by Rance Burger)

In somewhat of a surprise, three contractors bid on the street project and the low bid came in under the engineers’ estimate.

“We think these are good market bids, we think we received a good bid,” Smith said.

The council bill up for consideration amends the Springfield Department of Public Works budget to move $1.1 million in reserves from a 1/8-cent transportation sales tax to help pay for the project.

“That is basically because in this current environment, we are seeing higher prices with issues with supply chain, inflation, just the business of contractors,” Smith said, “but at the same time, we do believe this is a good bid.”

“We are, as we have talked about before, looking at all of our projects across the 1/4- and the 1/8-cent approved list,”

“We’re updating our estimates, we’re looking at our reserves, just making sure that we’re able to complete and meet those commitments. As we’re doing that, this is causing us concern, but we’re at a place that we can make it work.”

The city of Springfield has a 1-percent sales tax for general operations, a 1/4-cent sales tax for capital improvement projects, a 1/8-cent sales tax for transportation and a 3/4-cent sales tax dedicated to Springfield’s public safety pension plan.

Smith said the Springfield Department of Public Works is looking over the schedule for any capital improvement projects associated with the 1/8-cent transportation sales tax and trying to recalculate estimates for what they might cost to do between now and 2025. He’s still optimistic for the projects on the list.

“If we see inflation keep going at 8 percent for several years, I might have a different message, but at the moment, actually, I think we’re in a good place,” Smith said.

There are about $12 million worth of road projects tied to the transportation sales tax set to happen sometime between now and 2025. Of that total, $5.2 million is for major street resurfacing and rehabilitation.

The list of projects includes: resurfacing National Avenue between Battlefield Road and Walnut Lawn; redoing the intersection of Campbell Avenue and Walnut Lawn; improving the Kansas Expressway intersection with Walnut Lawn; improving the intersection of National Avenue and Division Street; improving the Kansas Expressway intersection with West Sunset Street; and refurbishing East Central Street from Benton Avenue to North Clay Avenue, a stretch of road that passes by Central High School and runs through the southern end of the Drury University campus.

Along the way, Smith said he will be watching each estimate and each request for bids, as will Mayor Ken McClure.

“We’ll need to be watching the subsequent bids and costs and all of that,” McClure said after Smith broke down the bids on April 4.

In November 2019, voters chose to renew the 1/8-cent transportation sales tax for 20 years, with the expectation that it would generate about $102 million over two decades of time. That’s an average of about $5.1 million per year.

Sales tax revenue ended up being higher than anticipated in Springfield after 2019. For the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2021, the revenue for the sales tax was closer to $6.9 million. The city council adopted a 2022 budget that included a $741,000 projected gain, for a total of $7.67 million in generation expected from the 1/8-cent transportation sales tax. It accounts for about 19 percent of capital improvement projects in Springfield, according to documentation found on the city’s 2022 budget by the Springfield Department of Finance.

Councilwoman Heather Hardinger is the sponsor of the bill to improve Division between National and Glenstone.

The sidewalk along the south side of Division Street at Smith Park near Evangel University will be widened into a 10-foot path as part of a plan to rebuild Division Street between National Avenue and Glenstone Avenue. (Photo by Rance Burger)

Rance Burger

Rance Burger is the managing editor for the Daily Citizen. He previously covered local governments from February 2022 to April 2023. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 17 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@sgfcitizen.org or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger