2019’s harsh weather causes city to focus repair efforts on busiest roads, delay repairs to some neighborhood streets

photo by: Nick Gerik

Road construction signs line Naismith Drive from 21st to 23rd streets on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019.

The harsh winter and heavy rains of the past year have taken a toll on Lawrence streets, causing the city to delay repairs on some neighborhood streets in favor of addressing issues with busier roadways.

Lawrence had 11 snow or ice storms and record-breaking rainfall the past year, as the Journal-World has previously reported. City engineers say the extreme weather has caused all the city streets to deteriorate at a greater rate than expected, and the city is prioritizing fixes to streets that carry more traffic — arterial and collector streets — above residential streets, according to a city staff memo to the City Commission.

Municipal Services and Operations spokesman Josh Carson said in an email to the Journal-World that the unexpected roadway deterioration included cracking, surface deformation and potholes.

To address the deterioration, the commission recently approved spending about $600,000 more toward repairs on some of Lawrence’s busier streets as part of the city’s 2019 street maintenance plan. Additional street maintenance will now be done on streets such as Wakarusa Drive, Naismith Drive and Tennessee Street. Those spending changes called for the deferral of $423,000 of work planned for residential streets. The commission also approved a change order to spend an additional $171,110 of funds that were available in the 2019 street budget, adding to the $3.3 million already budgeted.

The $600,000 of reallocated funding will be used to fund the following five street projects as part of this year’s street maintenance program:

• Wakarusa Drive: North of Harvard Road to Sixth Street

• Naismith Drive: 19th Street to 23rd Street

• Tennessee Street: 17th Street to 19th Street

• Wakarusa Dive: Clinton Parkway to 27th Street

• Alabama Street: 23rd Street to south of 25th Street

The deferred street projects include about $280,000 of milling and overlay on residential streets, including Seventh Street, Indiana Street, Louisiana Street and Ohio Street. Also deferred is $105,000 for full-depth patching of streets in the Oak Hill area, north of 15th Street, and in the Sunset Hill area, south of Sixth Street, as well as $39,000 of contracted milling repairs on other residential streets.

Carson said that reprioritizing the busier streets did not mean that residential streets would not be repaired. He noted that Ward Street, La Salle Street, Bullene Avenue and Homewood Street in eastern Lawrence had already been repaired earlier in the year and that several residential streets in the Alvamar Colonial subdivision in northwest Lawrence would still be repaired this year.

Residents in neighborhoods that had previously been informed that their streets would be repaired this year will be notified that the city has changed its plans. It is not yet determined when those neighborhood streets will be repaired. City engineers state in the memo that deferred streets will now be evaluated for consideration in the 2020 street maintenance plan.

The $600,000 only partially addresses the city’s overall street maintenance needs, according to information in the memo. Municipal Services and Operations field and engineering staff created a list of streets with the greatest need not scheduled for maintenance in 2019. The city’s evaluation considers factors such as pavement condition, ongoing patching costs and whether the street was scheduled for maintenance within the next five years. Staff determined that it would cost the city $2.2 million to repair the 20 highest priority streets.

Carson said the city was performing a comprehensive evaluation of all streets this winter to prepare a recommended street maintenance plan for the city’s 2021 budget and the five-year Capital Improvement Plan. He noted that street classification is only one factor of the evaluation.


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