Mart is filled with old town charm, and impressive athletic teams, but driving through the town can be a bumpy ride.
"My sister that lives with me drives and we're just rolling and rocking and it's insane here," says Mart resident Robert Cranmore.
At nearly every turn, the roads are riddled with cracks, and potholes, as cars weave through hazards that are all but unavoidable.
"That's the one thing that needs to be done here in Mart, the roads need to be done. Don't hit any potholes, cause if you hit a pothole you can lose your bumper, license plate or any of that. I've had that happen before," says Alan Harringer who drives through Mart.
Thankfully, the city announced that by Wednesday, Sept. 1, repairs will begin on nearly 4.5 miles of road, including Commerce St., Smyth St., Carpenter St., and more.
"I give a lot of credit to the guys at city hall, they went to Mexia, they looked at some roads that a company had done, this company got the bid. These roads have held up for three to four years now and so we're really excited for them to get started," says Tommy Roberson, a former city council member in Mart.
For people in Mart, road repairs have been a long time coming and will pave the way to a new and improved Mart.
"I hope we get the road fixed and then you know some of these houses that are abandoned people will get them, fix them and fix up all the other houses around," says Cranmore.
Repairs will be split into five total phases, covering some 20 miles of roads that will cover downtown and thoroughfares, as well as connecting streets and routes to schools.
The $1.6 million road project is thanks to a combination of funding by the USDA as well as a donation from Mclennan County and by the JL Davis family.
Phase one of the road repair project will cost approximately $1.5 million dollars according to Henry Witt II with the City of Mart.
Breakdown of phases according to the city website:
Descriptions of each phase and how they will be funded
The city currently has line of sight to fund the first three phases (approximately 12.39 miles) of street construction. Funding for Phase 4 could come from a variety of sources and will be formed as construction of that phase approaches. Once Phase 4 is funded and completed, Phase 5 will automatically be funded from a private donation administered by the Waco Foundation, as explained below.
Phase 1 - USDA Water System Improvement Project
This phase will be constructed as part of the City of Mart's Water System Improvement plan. Since most of the city's water distribution lines run beneath city streets, the roads will be dug up and rebuilt after the new lines are installed. Phase 1 is the longest phase of the project at 4.47 miles. As required by USDA, it is part of a water system improvement project and Phase 1 covers the most problematic and undersized water lines in the city.
Phase 2 - West Mart, Downtown and Thoroughfares
J.L. Davis donated $850,000 for use by the City of Mart for road construction. The full $850,000 was given to the Waco Foundation to manage and allocate to the city as certain requirements are met. The road funds will be given to the city in allocations of $215,500. The first allocation of $212,500 will be given to the City of Mart when the USDA project begins. This first allocation of the private donation will be used to fund Phase 2, which will be scheduled for construction with the county after Phase 1 has been completed. Phase 2 is approximately 4.06 miles long and will complete much of West Mart, the downtown area, as well as roads leading to Rucker Park and the Mart Cemetery. Phases 1 and 2 combine for 8.53 miles of new streets in Mart.
Phase 3 - Connecting Streets and Routes to Schools
As a requirement of the donation, with the exception of the first $212,500, all other allocations must be matched before they are released to the city. This means the city must show that four miles or $212,500 worth of roads have been constructed before the next allocation will be released. The city will use the USDA-funded road construction in Phase 1 as a match for the $212,500 allocation needed to construct Phase 3. Phases 1 through 3 combine for approximately 12.39 miles of new streets in Mart.
Phase 4 - Remaining Interconnecting Streets
The city plans to fund Phase 4 with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding from the Texas Department of Agriculture. Understanding that CDBG funding is not guaranteed, Mart will also apply for funding through other programs for Phase 4. They could also access their rainy day fund to pay for Phase 4, if necessary. Phases 1-4 will combine for approximately 16.17 miles of new streets in Mart.
Phase 5 - Remaining Interconnecting Streets
An allocation from the Waco Foundation of $212,500 will be used to construct Phase 5. The city will use funding from Phase 4 to match the funds needed to construct Phase 5. The 5th Phase will finish off all streets in Mart with Phases 1-5 representing 19.55 miles of new streets.
Material prices stay flat, after the first 5 phases of street construction, there would be a remaining balance in the Waco Foundation fund of $212,500. However, material prices will likely increase over the 5 next years making the cost to the city for road construction more expensive. The additional $212,500 will be used in this case to cover the remaining streets in Phase 5.