BY JAMES HARPER
Daytona Beach officials were disappointed to learn recently that for the fourth time they will not be receiving a $13.2 million federal grant requested to pay for the reconstruction of Orange Avenue, which runs through the heart of the city and its Black community.
At least one city official remained optimistic.
Hardy Smith, Government Relations Administrator for the city, said an application was submitted in March for a part of the 2012 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant.
Reconstructing Orange Avenue is expected to cost $19 million.
Smith said there was a half-billion dollars available but more than 10 and a half billion dollars was requested from entities and municipalities across the country.
Two Florida cities, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, were successful in their bid for funds for their local projects.
Smith said Orange Avenue is the city’s number one infrastructure project and Daytona will continue looking for other sources of revenue.
He says the city is still waiting for a reply on another grant they hope to get.
“We meet the criteria. It’s a competitive process,” he stated.
Smith said he remains optimistic the project will get done.
He elaborated saying the reason the project is expensive because it involves more than just repaving the thoroughfare.
“What’s underneath is the problem – all the storm water pipes are crumbling. They are so old,” Smith explained.
Flooding a problem
The infrastructure under Orange Avenue is contributing to the flooding in the area when there is a heavy rainstorm. He also noted the outdated infrastructure is also causing the many potholes and the uneven levels along the avenue.
Though Orange Avenue is a priority, Smith said the city is cash strapped and has a lengthy list of other needs.
“We are trying to identify new funding sources (for Orange Avenue),” Smith concluded.
Lois Bollenback, Interim Executive Director of the Volusia Transportation Planning Organization, said her agency provided a resolution of support for the application.
“The Volusia TPO has been supportive of efforts. Unfortunately, we have limited programs for improvements to Orange Avenue since it’s a local road,” Bollenback explained.
Volusia submitted resolution
In a resolution submitted by the Volusia County Council, which was part the application package sent for the federal funds, it was noted that the reconstruction of Orange Avenue was necessary because the proposed Daytona stop of the Jacksonville to Miami commuter rail will be located in the Midtown area adjacent to Orange Avenue.
There also are plans to replace the Orange Avenue/Veterans Memorial Bridge bringing it up to current day standards.
Orange Avenue is a Volusia County-owned roadway located in Daytona Beach.
“Volusia County and the city of Daytona Beach jointly acknowledge that local funding is not available to finance the estimated $20 million needed to complete the project now, or in the foreseeable future without substantial state and or federal assistance, due to current economic conditions,” the resolution concluded.