Taft Boulevard to receive multimillion-dollar improvements

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — One part of Taft Boulevard in Wichita Falls is getting some much-needed upgrades.

City Council approved for scales concrete construction to complete the more than 5 million dollar project but Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana recused himself from voting.

Santellana says his company could possibly be up for subcontracting work on this project.

While city councilors are allowed to be subcontractors on city projects, he says he wanted to make sure he was legally in the clear.

More than $5 million is going towards widening and improving one part of Taft Boulevard.

“We finally got it designed. We got all the proposals and bids in and we’re gonna get started on that thing pretty shortly. We’re just excited to get that thing moving forward,” Wichita Falls Director of Public Works Russell Schreiber said.

This project was approved in 2018 by voters and will work from Taft and Southwest Parkway to Taft and Kemp.

Schreiber says the city had to get several things in order since 2018 to make it happen.

“We had to go in and acquire some construction easements, some temporary easements from some adjoining property owners, some drainage easements,” Schreiber said.

“That took quite a while to do. It was a pretty extensive design that had to be done, that took quite a while to do.”

Although Scales Concrete Construction is completing the project, Santellana represented his construction company at the pre-bid meeting.

Santellana also says his company is up for subcontract work on the project and several residents called that a conflict of interest on social media.

But Santellana cites recent changes made to the city charter that allows for him to be a part of city projects.

“Before we made the charter change, might’ve been some sort of conflict, but the voters voted this in, it wasn’t me,” Santellana said.

“We sat on that committee. Somebody else brought the idea ‘let’s put it before the citizens.’ Citizens said ‘hey no problem.’

“It’s not something that I’ll bid on every single project, but if it’s a project that fits well within my company then we’ll submit a bid.”

As the city prepares for this project, officials hope that residents of that area are patient as the project may shut down sections of Taft.

“We’ll be putting out notices helping people understand what’s going on and when it’s going to happen,” Schreiber said.

“Once it’s finished, it will be a great project. It will be a great addition to the traffic conveyance in that area.”

A project three years in the making finally coming to life and getting closer to changing one area of Wichita Falls.

Schreiber says once the project gets started, it should take 540 days to finish.

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