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Council Report: Changes made to street, water, storm water construction and contracting practices

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Tuesday, the Fort Worth City Council approved a variety of ordinance, policy and specification revisions.

The changes are a result of a collaborative effort between city staff and the Development Advisory Committee, along with respective development stakeholders in the community over the past year and a half, Planning and Development Director Randle Harwood said. All development and construction manuals, along with standards and practices tied to new development and construction, were updated, he said.

The process worked to eliminate time-consuming conflicts between manuals and policies, and also to make those policies clearer and easier to implement, Harwood said.

“It is really a nuts and bolts overhaul to update all of our standards to current street, water system, and storm water construction and contracting practices,” Harwood noted. “These policies apply to over $200 million dollars a year in privately funded public infrastructure that serves new growth and redeveloping areas of the city. With the adoption of the updates we hope to save our customers time and money, and also improve the quality of public infrastructure built by private developers to serve their developments.”

Harwood added that the changes will also save the city maintenance and operation dollars after the acceptance of the public infrastructure.

Council approved changes in the following areas:

*Installation Policy and Design Criteria for Water, Wastewater and Reclaimed Water.

This policy was last updated in 1999. This manual is of assistance to engineers in preparing designs and construction. Major areas of revisions to the 2019 policy and design criteria include consolidation of the installation policy and the design criteria into one document, additional annexation requirements prior to obtaining water and wastewater service, incorporation of new criteria of shared utility easements for high density infill development, inclusion of reclaimed water design criteria, as well as a formalized variance process for design and policy decisions.

*The Utility Construction Policy

Last updated in 2001. The goal of the update is to increase pavement life, decrease maintenance costs and increase the ride-ability of the city’s streets. Major changes include the requirement of lane width pavement repair based on street condition and age, thus eliminating spot pavement repair in favor of a more complete replacement to accomplish the goals.

The updates also ensure that street closures are effectively managed and disruptions to traffic flow are minimized.

The policy will be implemented in two phases, June 1 for concrete pavement, and Oct. 1 for asphalt pavement, to allow time for the affected utilities to adjust to the new requirements.

*Community Facilities Agreements (CFA) Ordinance

Also last majorly revised in 2001, with minor revisions thereafter, this ordinance updates the regulations developers will follow applicable to the design, construction of or payment for public infrastructure, the dedication of property or right-of-way/easements within the city and its extraterritorial jurisdiction, as well as guaranteeing that all new development is adequately served by public infrastructure constructed to city standards.

Major changes include removing design and specification requirements, and instead referencing the corresponding specification or policy manuals, along with elimination of the border streets policy. The double bonding requirement for CFAs has been eliminated under certain circumstances.

Other major changes include a new process for material testing the public infrastructure constructed pursuant to a CFA, revision of the inspection fee structure to match the actual number of inspection days instead of relying on estimates based on percentages of construction valuation, adoption of requirements for water testing lab and fee collection, creation of an express CFA review process to expedite the engineering review of small infrastructure projects, providing for reductions in financial guarantees during construction, and adopting policies to allow for interdependent development projects to be constructed concurrently.

*Unit Price Ordinance

Last updated in 2014, this ordinance is an amalgamation of construction costs based on both construction in progress and developer-awarded projects. The ordinance was established, as required by state law, to calculate the city’s financial participation in certain community facilities agreements (CFA). It is also used for cost estimates for future improvements agreements (FIA).

In order for the city to participate in the cost of public improvements that are not publicly bid, the city bases its participation on the Unit Price Ordinance in order to protect the taxpayer funds.

The changes to the ordinance establish updated unit prices, reiterate the alternative unit price methods for determining city participation in CFAs, and determine cost estimates for FIAs.

*Transportation Engineering Manual

This manual establishes design requirements for transportation infrastructure in the city. The current versions, the “Brown Book” was established by memorandum in 1987.

The purpose of the manual is to guarantee consistency of traffic and transportation design practices for existing and future site development in the city as a professional design resource for staff, the professional development community, and any individuals or groups involved in the planning and design of the city’s street network. The manual applies to all projects that impact public rights-of-way along the city streets.

The revised publication provides updates to these design standards based on changes in infrastructure and site development requirements. In addition, the manual will incorporate changes based on national best practices and recent city planning efforts, including the Master Thoroughfare Plan, Complete Streets Policy and Active Transportation Plan.

*Streets and Sidewalks Ordinance

The purpose of the amendment is to reiterate and codify the city’s goal of sidewalk installation as a necessary part of development, including single lot improvements. The requirement for individual lot owners to install sidewalks, or seek relief therefrom, had been contained in the Community Facilities Agreement policy. However, with its codification, staff determined that an amendment to this ordinance was the more appropriate location for the requirement.

Developers are still subject to the Subdivision Ordinance, which specifies when and where sidewalks are required on any land which is subdivided or replatted.

This update does not represent a policy change, but rather, provides a central location for the public to obtain information related to this infrastructure.

At the June 4 council meeting, council members will vote on changes to the city’s Subdivision Ordinance, which has the purpose of providing regulatory authority for the orderly growth, subdivision, and development within the city. This portion of the city code is being revised to harmonize with the various revisions and updates approved Tuesday so as to eliminate or minimize conflicts and duplication.

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