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File photo of Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome's road improvements plan took another step forward with Metro Council's approval Wednesday of several items, which include giving the administration the authority to start financing efforts for the larger-scale projects.   

The Metro Council, in a unanimous decision without any discussion, gave the administration permission to issue up to $200 million in bonds to kick-start Broome's nearly $1 billion MovEBR roads improvement project. 

Issuing bonds is basically the city-parish burrowing against the future money that will be generated from the half-cent sales tax voters approved last year. The 30-year sales tax is expected to generate close to $1 billion over its life span.

Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Kelvin Hill said it'll likely be November before the city-parish presents its bond package to the state's Bond Commission for approval, which means motorists likely won't start seeing orange traffic cones popping up until early next year on some of the major traffic upgrades included in the more than 70 projects within the MovEBR plan. 

"We still have a lot of engineering and design work — preconstruction stuff — before we can get started on those projects," Hill said in an interview before Wednesday night's meeting. 

But motorists will get some relief soon when the city-parish begins the traffic light synchronization. 

That project is budgeted for $1.9 million, but federal funds are covering 80 percent of that cost, city-parish officials have previously said. 

In addition to syncing lights so traffic flows smoothly along busy thoroughfares, the work to be done also involves upgrading the current system under which fire and EMS vehicles can change traffic lights to green when they get within about 2,000 feet of them. 

"A lot of that will start happening shortly after the funding is in place," Hill said. 

The MovEBR project list includes widening and adding capacity to Hooper Road, Old Hammond Highway, Perkins Road, Tiger Bend Road and Wax Road/Magnolia Bridge Road. And the plan has numerous locations for new sidewalks, including Drusilla Lane, Elm Grove Garden Drive, Mullen Drive, 72nd Street, Sherwood Forest Boulevard, Siegen Lane and South Harrell's Ferry Road.

CSRS was picked in June to oversee all the roads plan capacity improvement projects, estimated at more than $805 million. Stantec is handling the second group of more than $312.6 million worth of projects designated as community enhancement/corridor improvements.

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