Mt. Tabor Road Project Update

On January 2nd, the City of New Albany held the third public information meeting for the Mt. Tabor Road Project. After receiving feedback and comments from residents and engineers, the City of New Albany has removed plans to modify the intersection at Mt. Tabor Road and Klerner Lane. As part of this federally-funded project, the four-way stop will remain.

The city will continue forward with the rest of the Mt. Tabor Road Improvement project, including new drainage, curbs, and sidewalks on both sides of the roadway. Signals will be updated at both Mt. Tabor Road and Charlestown Road, as well as the Mt. Tabor Road and Grant Line Road intersections.

In 2013, the roadway experienced a failure along the north hillside near East Oakwood Drive. The city immediately proceeded with an emergency, temporary repair at the road slide in order to keep the roadway safe. The Mt. Tabor Road Improvement project will provide a long-term fix for the stabilization issues along Mt. Tabor Road.

The City of New Albany will complete a new traffic survey and analysis regarding the reconstruction of the intersection at Mt. Tabor Road and Klerner Lane at a later date.

“We will keep working to improve the roadway and infrastructure at Mt. Tabor Road,” stated Mayor Jeff Gahan. “We welcome and appreciate the input and feedback from our neighbors and business owners. Please stay connected by reading the News and Tribune and by visiting our website.”

Net Neutrality Needs Your Help

Tomorrow, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to vote on removing Net Neutrality protections that govern how Internet Service Providers (ISP) allow people access to the internet.

“I urge you to take steps to protect your privacy, protect your access to information, and protect your right to start an internet business,” stated Mayor Jeff Gahan. “Net Neutrality protects these rights for all small businesses and residents. Contact your elected officials for help. Ask them to keep the internet fair for every person, rich or poor, and every business, small or large. Ask your representatives to preserve Net Neutrality today to keep our cities growing and our residents informed.”

What is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality is the set of rules that dictate that all traffic on the internet should be treated fairly. It states that no Internet Service Provider can favor and speed up or slow down (or block!) access to any website or internet service. Net Neutrality, put simply, is the bedrock principle of a free and open internet.

What could happen if Net Neutrality goes away?

1.       Stifled Economic Growth and Damage to Small Businesses

Without these protections, ISPs could slow down access to a competing startup’s website, stifling economic growth and hurting small businesses. Even large companies could be affected by this – for example, Netflix provides a competing service to many ISPs who provide cable television service. With Net Neutrality rules removed, those ISPs could slow down or even block access to Netflix, or charge you a “premium” fee for access to that content.

2.       Invasion of Privacy by ISPs

In April of this year, a Congressional resolution passed that repeals rules requiring ISPs to receive permission from customers in order to collect and/or sell information about your online habits.

Current laws restrict ISPs from how and when they collect customer information, including browsing habits and the ability to build a “profile” of a user’s online habits or activities. By removing Net Neutrality and rolling back certain rules and protections, the FCC could fully un-restrict ISPs ability to collect, use, and sell your data to third parties without your permission.

3.       Increased Costs for Consumers

Currently, with Net Neutrality in place, customers pay one price (your monthly bill) for access to the entire internet. Without Net Neutrality, ISPs could portion out the internet into “packages.” For example, if you wanted access to your social media sites, ISPs would have the ability to charge you an additional fee per month for their “social media” package, which would then allow you to access those websites.

How to Contact your Elected Representatives:

Trey Hollingsworth – US House of Representatives

1641 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: 202-225-5315

Joe Donnelly – US Senator

720 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: 202-224-4814

Todd Young – US Senator

400 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: 202-224-5623

How to Contact your Business Representatives

Local Chamber of Commerce – One Southern Indiana

4100 Charlestown Road
New Albany, IN 47150
Phone: 812-945-0266

Louisville Chamber of Commerce – Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI)

614 W. Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Phone: 502-625-0000

What's Happening Now with Public Housing

Over the course of several years, the city has been analyzing the public housing stock and ways that we can better serve those in public housing through improved conditions, access to programs and services, and more.

“We are committed to serving all residents of New Albany, especially those who are in the most need. Our ten-year plan will improve housing conditions and supportive services for all residents of the New Albany Housing Authority and surrounding neighborhoods,” stated Mayor Jeff Gahan.

Below are some of those findings, and steps the city and Housing Authority are taking to improve public housing in New Albany.

Public Housing Facilities are in Poor Condition

Public housing facilities are in poor condition, and not just locally. During an inspection this year, numerous instances of both mold and roof leaks were found in public housing properties, in both common areas and in units. In addition to the mold and roof leaks, properties were also shown to have been poorly or improperly maintained, with broken cast iron, massively clogged drain pipes, and broken-down playground equipment for children.

National Budget Underfunded

The New Albany Housing Authority, a federal program, is severely underfunded for the amount of people it serves. Building conditions are suffering, and projected national budgets do not have a way to pay for the upgrades necessary. Across the country, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that $26 billion would be needed to bring all properties across the nation back into good condition. Here in New Albany, that estimate is $138 million.

Housing Authority Properties are Too Concentrated

The New Albany Housing Authority properties are too densely concentrated in certain areas. Concentration is not ideal, and isolates residents from transportation, jobs, and other important services. Excessive concentration of subsidized housing is not consistent with current federal policy or the city’s comprehensive plan.

A Plan Forward

The city entered into an agreement with the Housing Authority early this year to jointly develop a long-term plan on how to move forward, focusing on three major objectives:

1.       Better serve housing residents and surrounding neighbors

Not only are the physical conditions of properties suffering, but access to services has been lacking as well. Within the last several months, steps have been taken to improve medical services, building conditions, and resources available to public housing residents. Through partnerships with IUS, Lifespring, Hope Southern Indiana, and others, a wellness center and full medical office will be locating in Housing Authority properties. This effort will bring much need health and medical services to both children and adults.

2.       Improve public housing properties

A modernized, neighborhood friendly layout of public housing properties can lead to better access to transportation, jobs, and other important services. By utilizing a mix of housing vouchers and newly constructed units in mixed-income developments, concentration can be lowered and residents can be better served.

3.       Reach a sustainable model

The current funding model for public housing is not adequate enough to properly serve residents. A new, modern plan must be developed that will better serve residents and be sustainable in the future.

What’s happening now?

Currently, the housing authority is conducting a physical needs assessment and inspection of all Housing Authority properties. They are anticipating this work will be complete in early 2018. This assessment will provide a detailed inventory of the condition of NAHA-owned properties, and will detail physical conditions of each unit, including structural assessment, building systems and components (HVAC, Plumbing, electrical systems, etc.) mold detection, air quality assessments, and other items.

The city is also gathering an inventory on vacant homes and properties that could be rehabbed or developed into mixed-use housing to accommodate a housing choice voucher. According to the 2014 US Census, there are 2,259 vacant housing units in New Albany.

This data is needed to submit to HUD before a final housing plan can be completed. After receiving the assessment, HUD can better make a determination and approval for any changes to the public housing stock that will be implemented.

“We are hopeful that through a combination of Housing Choice Vouchers, Rental Assistance Demonstration, and other programs that we can work to improve the public housing program in New Albany,” stated interim Housing Director David Duggins.

2-way Streets Conversion Project Wins Transportation Excellence Award

The City of New Albany has been awarded the 2017 Kentucky-Indiana Transportation Excellence Award (KITE Award) from the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency (KIPDA) for the East Spring Street and Silver Street Road Diet, and the conversion of the downtown grid system from one-way streets to two-way streets.

KIPDA Kite Award 2017.jpg

KIPDA recognized and awarded the project with the KITE award, and in the application, four goals of the project were outlined:

1.     Ensure that the East Spring Street Corridor did not revert to highway levels of traffic volume and speed, and not become a toll-dodging solution that would compromise the residential character of the corridor.

2.     Ensure continued and adequate flow of vehiclular traffic on East Spring Street Corridor and other major downtown streets

3.     Provide for a safer, more walkable downtown area, while promoting safe and accessible bicycle use

4.     Enhance downtown as a “destination,” especially in ease of access and greater visibility

“I want to thank KIPDA for recognizing and awarding the conversion project with their annual KITE Award,” stated Mayor Gahan. “After many years of research, planning, and discussing the project with residents and business owners, we are proud of the final product and the benefits that it will bring.”

“I want to highlight and emphasize that the city did not rush to make a decision on the finalization of the conversion project. Instead, the city took its time and was methodical. The City also was not afraid to compromise and modify the plan as needed, especially when it came to changes prompted by the feedback received from residents. This project exemplifies how local government, community members, and contractors can come together to design the best plan for their city,” stated City Council President Patrick McLaughlin.

“I was a supporter for the two-way conversion from the beginning. The traffic has slowed and our building is more visible now. I believe it will help all downtown merchants,” stated Terry Middleton, owner of Terry Middleton’s Karate/Kickboxing/Boxing on Market Street.

 

Mt. Tabor Road Project to Begin in Summer 2018

The Mt. Tabor Road Project is set to begin construction in Summer 2018. The project will run from the intersection of Grant Line and Mt. Tabor Road to the intersection of Klerner Lane and Mt. Tabor Road. It will include new sidewalk construction, new drainage systems, relocated utilities, and road stabilization efforts along hillsides on Mt. Tabor Road. At the intersection of Mt. Tabor and Klerner Lane, a traffic signal with left-turn lanes will be constructed.

In 2013, the roadway experienced a failure along the north hillside near East Oakwood Drive. The city immediately proceeded with an emergency repair at the road slide in order to keep the roadway safe, but this project will provide a much more long-term fix for the stabilization issues along Mt. Tabor Road.

This is a federal aid project, with 80% of the funds coming from the federal government and a 20% local match.

In preparation of the project and to accommodate utility relocation, a contractor will be trimming and removing certain trees within the right-of-way along Mt. Tabor Road. By performing the utility relocation in advance of the full project, the city hopes to reduce the construction time of the overall project. These trees will be marked in advance. All property owners were compensated for trees that will be removed as part of the project, and the city will make efforts, similar to other areas and projects around New Albany, to repopulate the tree canopy.

“The City is making it a priority to improve the tree canopy,” stated stated Krisjans Streips, Chief City Planner and Tree Board Administrator. “Hundreds of trees have been planted in parks and on the Greenway, and trees will be replaced along the public right of way at a 3:1 ratio. This is a great safety, drainage, and road reconstruction project all rolled into one.”