Street quality

City officials should make sure they are getting the high quality materials and construction techniques that will result in high quality, long-lasting streets.

September 28, 2011


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.


Stacy Napier 4 years ago

Maybe if the city would quit letting heavy overweight trucks run over streets that weren't designed for anything over a few ton they would last longer.

MattressMan 4 years ago

+1, people complain about the condition of the streets but when you have heavy truck (probably include some SUV's) traffic going down streets that were originally built when there were horse and buggies and model T's around they get torn up pretty fast. Even some of the (what I'll call) newer streets (23rd, Iowa) were built to the load specs of vehicles of the time but todays vehicles are just heavier. Something else that could help would be if the speed limit for large trucks is lowered, especially going into intersection. They drive towards an intersection and have to stop you can just see the asphalt roll up under the front tires.

Trobs 4 years ago

Since when do the streets in Lawrence us concrete? Pretty sure when they do road repairs all I see is asphalt

FlintlockRifle 4 years ago

They should use concrete at all major intersection, so when you do have to stop from highway speed you would not ""roll or move"" the blacktop under your vehicle, this is really a big problem with over the road trucks, just look at the 15th and Iowa intersection in the north bound lanes, if it rained you could get get out of your car and swim a few lapes, well maybe not that bad but it is bad, take a look next time you come through this area

camper 4 years ago

Concrete is rarely used in Lawrence. Asphalt is the problem. This is what they tear up and replace almost every what, two or three years.

I bet millions of dollars could be saved if concrete were phased in. In my hometown, they use all concrete. It is 40+ years old and I cannot ever recall any major repairs or repaving. Funny, our High School parking lot used to be asphalt and they were always doing patchwork or repaving the entire thing. The old rumor was that the contractor was in cahoots with the city. Today that parking lot is concrete and much better. Concrete is the long-term answer....not tar.

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