One of the ongoing, year-after-year concerns of Lawrence residents is the condition of city streets. Millions of dollars have been spent on city streets, and yet millions more are scheduled to be spent on rebuilding projects.
City officials offer various reasons for why city streets do not seem to hold up, but the roads continue to fall apart. Some local experts claim base materials have not been prepared properly; others say the rock aggregate used in the street projects is too soft. Some suggest the concrete is not sufficiently worked down at the time it is placed over the metal reinforcing wire, and numerous other reasons are offered.
Do city officials conduct enough inspections to make sure ready-mix plants are turning out a quality product? Is the city building cheap streets or are repair and overlay jobs awarded more on the basis of cost than on the excellence of those providing the engineering and concrete?
Kansas Department of Transportation officials recently announced that paving will start soon on part of the new four-lane U.S. Highway 59 south of Lawrence. The section of the highway north of the Douglas County line will require 23,640 cubic yards of concrete for a layer 8.5 inches thick. KDOT officials estimate mixer trucks will make 2,300 deliveries to complete the project. They plan to use 79,100 tons of asphalt to lay down a foot-thick layer on the northern section of the road, which will bring the long-awaited highway to Lawrence’s southern border.
Two thousand, three hundred loads of concrete is a lot of concrete. This is a KDOT project, not a city effort. However, it is hoped there will be more control, inspection and attention to the quality of product in each of the 2,300 mixer-truck loads than there apparently has been to materials used in Lawrence street projects — not only the quality of the concrete, but also how the mix is laid down.
Hopefully, the heavily traveled U.S. 59 will stand up to traffic loads better than some of the concrete streets in Lawrence have done in recent years. Taxpayers, whether they are paying for local, state or national highways and whether that project involves 23,640 cubic yards of concrete or substantially less, deserve a quality product that meets strict standards.