Archive for Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Road work ahead: City lines up street repair projects, will add more if sales tax passes

Utility Department worker Tress Potter waves a vehicle through the work zone on 15th Street near the intersection with Summit Street, as other workers repair a water main in preparation for a repaving job Monday. Lawrence city commissioners are asking voters to approve a 0.3 percent sales tax increase to expand street maintenance projects.

Utility Department worker Tress Potter waves a vehicle through the work zone on 15th Street near the intersection with Summit Street, as other workers repair a water main in preparation for a repaving job Monday. Lawrence city commissioners are asking voters to approve a 0.3 percent sales tax increase to expand street maintenance projects.

August 26, 2008


City officials hope to accelerate road work

City officials hope to accelerate road work in the coming years. Enlarge video

Projects that would be funded by tax

Approving a 0.3 percent sales tax to finance city infrastructure upgrades and equipment purchases would be expected to generate $42.7 million over 10 years, according to the city of Lawrence. Of that total, $500,000 a year would go toward adding sidewalks, repairing brick streets and boosting repaving efforts.

Also on the list would be reconstruction of selected roads. Among "major reconstruction candidates," according to the city:

¢ Bob Billings Parkway: Iowa Street to Crestline Drive, $4.8 million; Crestline to Kasold Drive, $2.8 million.

¢ Kasold: Bob Billings to Harvard Road, $4.1 million; Harvard to Sixth Street, $4 million.

¢ 19th Street: Naismith Drive to Iowa, $3.2 million.

¢ Wakarusa Drive: Bob Billings to 18th Street, $2.7 million.

Carroll Lashbrook replaced his roof five years ago, then went on to add a new deck, apply new siding, install a new air conditioner and, less than a year ago, replace his original furnace.

Now he's looking forward to the next major upgrade at this place on Trail Road: a fresh new coat of asphalt pavement for the road out front and new curbs around the corner.

"It's about time," said Lashbrook, who retired in Lawrence after a career working in building materials.

The work on Trail Road is among more than $1.14 million worth of such projects lined up through the end of October. In all, the city will have spent $5 million this year for repaving and related work, from filling cracks on mildly damaged streets to replacing pavement, curbs and gutters on roadways considered lost to neglect.

It's a program aiming to get even larger in the years ahead, with Lawrence city commissioners asking city voters to approve a 0.3 percent sales tax in November to finance street repairs, maintenance and other municipal projects and equipment purchases.

The tax would generate an estimated $2.2 million next year, then $3.9 million in 2010 and continue on for a full decade. Much of the money would be dedicated for rebuilding streets with surfaces that already have crumbled and bases eroded to the point of no return.

Any thought of cutting back on road maintenance - a suggestion that tends to surface during tight budget times - isn't gaining traction at Lawrence City Hall.

"We have a responsibility to the community to maintain our streets," said David Corliss, city manager. "We're not putting the resources into street maintenance that we need to. Every year we're getting behind. :

"They don't heal themselves."

Maintenance program

The city's current overlay program is reserved for roads that remain in sound shape below the surface, but with tops that are too damaged to be appropriate for simple patches, crack-fillings or other occasional fixes.

Heading into fall, roads that fit that description include Trail, from Monterey Way to Folks Road; Rockledge Road, from Country Club Terrace to McDonald Drive; and several streets in the neighborhood near Prairie Park School.

More are out there, and the city is working to catch up with necessary road work as fast as it can, said Steve Lashley, who put together plans for the latest round of such overlay projects.

"We're trying to get everywhere across the city in a timely matter," he said.

The first hope is to fill small cracks in roads with emulsified asphalt so that existing cracks don't get worse, he said. Roads that need more attention are candidates for "microsurfacing," a process in which a thin layer of pavement is applied atop an existing road surface.

The city started using such microsurfacing last year, Lashley said, and officials are hoping for good results.

Next up: Milling old pavement and replacing it with fresh overlays of new pavement, a process that typically costs five times more than the use of microsurfacing, Lashley said. It's the last line of defense for retaining the structure of a road.

Roads that already have lost their integrity - ones that seem to have pothole-repair crews on call constantly - need to be rebuilt from the ground up. That's a much more expensive process, Corliss said, and one that the sales-tax proposal is designed to address.

'A very difficult choice'

Besides financing purchases of fire-protection equipment, helping pay for upgrades to drainage systems in North Lawrence and tackling other basic municipal needs, the tax revenues would be used to rebuild bad stretches of road, Corliss said. Among them: 19th Street from Naismith Drive to Iowa Street.

Some residential streets that normally would fall low on a priority list because they carry relatively low volumes of traffic would get attention under the expanded plan. Some areas also would get new sidewalks to connect gaps between existing pedestrian walkways.

If the sales tax does not pass Nov. 4, however, city leaders will be left to see what's next.

"If we don't get the sales tax, we're looking at a very difficult choice: a substantial increase in property taxes, or live with substandard streets," Corliss said, noting that the sales tax would be equivalent to a rise of about 20 percent in the city's portion of a resident's property-tax rate.

Katie Lashbrook, a retired nurse, knows what's at stake. She sees plenty of roads all over town that still need work, beyond the one outside the home that she shares with her husband.

While she intends to vote for the sales tax - mindful of how long it will be until others might be relieved of their widening cracks, disintegrating curbs and deepening potholes - she's uncertain whether others in town will be willing to spend money now to prevent even bigger problems down the road.

"Times are hard," she said. "People don't have the money."


Ragingbear 9 years, 9 months ago

Duffman, next time you see that, get your camera and record it. Then take it to the city and ask them why they just paid $500 in equivalent funds to pay for nothing.

BigPrune 9 years, 9 months ago

It's word of mouth, stuckinthemiddle. But that is an interesting concept to provide the incontrovertible proof, having a study done on the most restrictive communities towards business in the nation. I'll write to Inc, Fortune, Expansion Management, Entrepreneur magazines and throw in a suggestion to John Stossel as well, or local MorganQuitno for good measure.

oldvet 9 years, 9 months ago

"what retailers have been prevented from coming in to Lawrence?"Do you mean coming in to Lawrence without a lawsuit or threat of a lawsuit... I think Walmart would be a good example... like them or not, it took a trip to court to let them build a store at 6th & Wak...

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 9 months ago

BigPrune the question was not ridiculous... the only thing ridiculous was the statement that you made about retailers being prevented from coming to Lawrence and your whole idea that the city has a problem with not taking in enough sales tax revenues...if you can't answer because you know of absolutely zero retailers that have been prevented from coming to Lawrence, then just say so:good lord: quit jumping the track:I don't work for the city and I think that the city is horribly run and wasteful:but the problem isn't not taking in enough tax dollars: it's spending too much on things that don't benefit the majority of the residents: Lot's of business do great here in Lawrence: lots of people have made and are making a killing: but it is a limited market and unless you have something new and exceptional to offer you'd probably have much better luck parking you business in one of the new strip-malls that pop up in Olathe as it sprawls it's way in all directions:

BigPrune 9 years, 9 months ago

One more thing, why is 6th street in front of HyVee getting resurfaced again for the 3rd time in 5 years????

LTownBaby 9 years, 9 months ago

I have an idea! Let's take some of the construction workers that are building spec homes and make them work on the streets! We obviously don't need more housing and there wouldn't be much training needed. Whaddayathink?

BigPrune 9 years, 9 months ago

Because it is a ridiculous question and I know you are on a fishing expedition stuckinthemiddle. Do you work for the City, by any chance?If you do work for the City, I suggest you suggest a study be enacted to understand why Lawrence is considered one of the top 5 most restrictive communities in the nation.

Duffman 9 years, 9 months ago

I watched these 4 guys stand around and stare at that hole in the ground for an hour this morning. Money well spent? I think not.

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 9 months ago

BigPrune what retailers have been prevented from coming in to Lawrence?and... what if any new retailers would be offering anything new that people aren't already buying and paying sales tax on at an existing retailer?

Tony Holladay 9 years, 9 months ago

BigPrune (Anonymous) says:One more thing, why is 6th street in front of HyVee getting resurfaced again for the 3rd time in 5 years????---------------Could be becuase of heavy traffic flow. Over weight vehicles etc. Could be the Asphalt supplier is using cheaper or improper stuff to make asphalt.Could be they didn't prep the roadway properly before laying the asphalt. (I see a lot of that)

BigPrune 9 years, 9 months ago

Now let me get this straight. The City of Lawrence does everything in its power to prevent businesses like retailers from coming to town. Yet, they don't have any money from sales taxes, so instead they want to increase our sales taxes to pay for infrastructure repairs. Shouldn't the City welcome businesses to town? What is wrong with this picture? Why haven't they layed off city staff to coincide with their budget shortfall? What is wrong with this picture people? Lawrence has been in a recession for 7 freaking years, and the only thing that changes is the City gets more restrictive against businesses. Maybe some layoffs are due so these folks can learn what it is like to live in the private sector.

BigPrune 9 years, 9 months ago

stuckinthemiddle,I suggest you become an owner of a local business who wants to expand their business. Go see for yourself what a pain in the butt it is to do business in this city. I decided it wouldn't be financially prudent to expend thousands upon thousands of dollars in order to abide by the City of Lawrence's restrictive requests. The blame can be squarely aimed at the new development code enacted by the former city commission - the "Progressive" City Commission. So things sit in Lawrence stagnated either by the lack of desire on the City's part -or they just want to prevent any and all businesses from expanding or coming to town (I suspect the latter, seriously), while other communities thrive with either business expansion or new businesses.So what is the solution? Let's sales tax or property tax the poor suckers who call Lawrence home. I wonder why population numbers have decreased or stagnated over the past few years? City Hall hasn't layed off anyone to coincide with our stagnation. If I was in power I would clean house, including the City Manager. I'd also disconnect my phone so all the screaming babies that complain about everything under the sun, wouldn't have the opportunity to whittle me down into not caring about my community anymore. So where would my money be better spent? In Lawrence, one of the most restrictive towards business communities in the NATION, or some other town like Topeka, Manhattan, Salina, Wichita, Olathe where I know I won't run into major brick walls at every turn?

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 9 months ago

BigPrune nice rant... but you didn't answer my had made a statement and I asked for some clarifications...instead you went off all half-cocked with assumptions about what I do or don't understand about doing business in this town...if you didn't want to answer the question you should have just ignored me...

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 9 months ago

BigPruneand... you may claim that this is another ridiculous question... but by any chance do you have a source or reference on Lawrence being considered one of the top 5 most restrictive communities in the nation?

lawrencian 9 years, 9 months ago

Cutting the T has absolutely NO relationship to this article about street repairs. The point here is that if you do not vote for the streets sales tax, then streets won't get repaired as quickly.Since the city commission already cut the T from the budget, and is only funding it if the sales tax passes, cutting it will not increase the amount of money available for street repairs!

BigPrune 9 years, 9 months ago

..and old vet, it also took Walmart 7 years before they started turning dirt. A perfect example. Don't forget Home Depot/Best Buy/Longhorn Steakhouse/On the Border and their 3 year ordeal. Then there is stuff I am sure has happened to many a little guy because they didn't have the big corporate bucks so they moved on.

sjschlag 9 years, 9 months ago

If I'm not mistaken they resurfaced Iowa between 9th and 23rd street last year. Why, then, are there giant potholes right before 15th street? Seriously, since when does asphalt fail after a year of wear and tear? Is it because of truck traffic going down Iowa/59 highway? is it because of a bad road foundation? is it because we keep putting down bad asphalt product?Before we vote on this, I think the police department and highway patrol need to conduct an investigation. Our roads should not be deteriorating this quickly. 6th street was done a few years ago, now they are re-doing it. same goes for Kasold south of 23rd, it has giant potholes in it. No taxes until we figure out why our roads are crumbling. If we do pass the sales tax, I suggest none of our contracts go to LRM or AIC, as they seem to have done all of the great paving work in this city that gets destroyed after a year.

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