Lawrence city commissioners want more evidence they’re getting the best bang for their buck on millions of dollars worth of street maintenance the city has undertaken.
At their Tuesday evening meeting, commissioners approved the city’s 2010 street maintenance plan, but also directed commissioners to get more information from surrounding communities about how much money they’re spending and what type of street maintenance methods they use the most.
“To me it looks like we’re holding about flat,” City Commissioner Aron Cromwell said of the condition of the city’s streets, “and we’ve spent $40 million. In a way it is good that we aren’t losing ground, but I want to see what we can do better.”
As part of the 2010 maintenance plan, commissioners received a detailed report ranking the condition of all 805 lane-miles of city streets. The report showed that the percentage of streets that fall into the “unacceptable” category — which means standard maintenance techniques are no longer working for the street — fell from about 31.5 percent in 2005 to 29.8 percent in 2009.
But Cromwell noted that the city has added about 20 centerline miles of new street as the city grew during the last four years. Those streets helped push up the percentage of streets in good condition, and it left him wondering whether existing streets had improved as much as the report suggested.
Mayor Rob Chestnut also said he wanted more information from staff about how long it would take for the city to address all the streets that currently are in the unacceptable category.
“We’re obviously talking about a long-term project,” Chestnut said.
Based on the current rate that crews are able to repave streets, it likely would take about 10 years to repave all the streets that are in an unacceptable condition, staff members said based on a quick look at the data.
City Manager David Corliss said he would bring to the commission information from other communities, and also more detailed estimates about how much progress can realistically be made on improving the city’s street condition each year.
“I think trying to project out what we can do and holding ourselves to some goals is appropriate,” Corliss said.
The report did detail how much work the city has done on street maintenance from 2006 to 2009. The city spent $17.15 million on routine street maintenance — such as repaving, microsurfacing, crack sealing, and curb and gutter work — during the four-year period. It also spent another $22 million on rebuilding several streets, including portions of Sixth Street, Kasold Drive, Ohio Street and West 19th Street.
The city plans to spend about $5.1 million on routine street maintenance in 2010, and also hopes to start a $6 million rebuilding of Kasold Drive south of Clinton Parkway to 31st Street.
As part of the 2010 plan, which was unanimously approved, commissioners gave tentative approval to do major maintenance work on Kasold Drive between Sixth Street and Peterson Road.
The $800,000 project will include new pavement, new sidewalks, and a landscaped median. The project originally had been scheduled to go from Trail Road to Peterson, but city officials said Tuesday some work would extend to Sixth Street.
Work would begin in the summer and likely would take three to four months to complete, city engineers said.