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Street repair forces choices

Staff writer

An assessment of street conditions presented Monday confirmed what Marion City Council already knew: the number of repairs needed far exceeds the city’s ability to finance them.

The council already approved development of a Community Development Block Grant proposal for street repairs with a maximum $400,000 award. A required city match would make $800,000 available for road work.

“All the streets I’ve just shown you today roughly add up to $3.1 million,” engineer Darin Neufeld of Evans, Bierly, Hutchison, & Associates, PA said. “We’re trying to lay out a road map to get you guys healthy. This is a starting point, this catches the worst ones for going after the grant.”

Neufeld used a color-coded city map to illustrate what streets need the most attention.

Three blocks and one intersection fell into the category of highest need: Lawrence Street between Elm and Locust; Freeborn between Lawrence and Main; Melvin between Roosevelt and Freeborn; and the intersection of Lincoln and Hudson. Neufeld estimated it would cost $364,250 to reconstruct these four items.

“Freeborn by far is the worst street as a whole in the city,” Neufeld said. Seven blocks and seven intersections are in varied levels of disrepair. Every block and intersection from Main south past St. Luke Hospital to Melvin made Neufeld’s list.

Neufeld said a primary cause for most of the problems stemmed from the use of materials that weren’t designed for longevity.

“I would be willing to bet that if we went out and cored the majority of your streets, there’s very little true hot-mix asphalt on a lot of the streets. It’s mostly years and years of chip and seal-type applications. Those were never meant to be 20 and 30 year pavements.”

Council member Todd Heitschmidt said it appeared less than 20 percent of the streets were targeted for extensive repair. Neufeld said Cedar Street, Eisenhower Road, and Main Street should not be included in the estimate because they have already been addressed.

“You’ve got two good ones and another that’s KDOT-assisted funding (Main), so when you take those out of play it’s probably around 30 percent,” Neufeld said.

“We would really like to help move something along as fast as we can. Right now we are still seeing some of the absolute best bid prices we’ve ever seen, coupled with the lowest bond rates you’ve ever seen,” Neufeld said. “Right now you can’t get a better bang for your buck.”

When Mayor Mary Olson asked why the state wasn’t following through on “shovel-ready” road projects, Neufeld replied there wasn’t money to fund them.

“We may not have it either,” Olson said. “What will we do about that?”

“Let it fall apart,” Neufeld said.

Last modified Aug. 22, 2012

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