Tuesday, Aug. 8

Fifth Street Road set to get repairs now

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[AUG. 8, 2006]  Eight of eight aldermen present at last night's Lincoln City Council meeting agreed to a short-term remedy to smooth out Fifth Street Road. The road has surface areas that are crumbling and it has become crowned in the center.

The city will be sharing in a major renovation of the road in a few years. "We're just trying to get a little bit better situation for people driving up and down that road," streets chairman Daron Whittaker said. This is just a temporary solution. "We know how serious it is that we've got to get that whole job done," he said.

Initial plans to use the city's Zipper were scrapped, as it does not provide the depth control needed for this particular plan. It is better suited to smaller amounts of roadway.

Alderman Buzz Busby said that they have found a company with a big machine that uses lasers. City engineer Mark Mathon said that the use of five or six lasers doing the measuring sets a better grade. It will mill off more evenly and lay the material back down ready for a seal coat.

The city's portion of the road goes as far as Picture This Photography, but about one-tenth mile of the road after Connolley Road belongs to the county. So the work is planned to run only from Lincoln Parkway to Connolley Road.

It was questioned if the city could possibly cover the county's small portion of road as well. City attorney Bill Bates said, "I'm not sure you can spend city money on somebody else's road."

Aldermen agreed it wouldn't be legally permissible to do the county portion, but they thought that the county should be approached to see if they would want their portion to be added into the same project. Alderman Marty Neitzel said, "Seems a shame we can't get it all nice. I know people are going to ask, 'Why didn't you do the whole thing?'"

Mathon was asked to have county engineer Bret Aukamp take it to the county's road committee to see if they want to be included in this work. The county's estimated cost for their portion is $3,500.

Whittaker said that he understood if the county wouldn't want to spend their money at this time. After the road gets its big work done, the county's section will be turned over to the city anyway.

The city does not expect to be out any additional expense beyond what they would be spending for maintenance on the road in the interim years. "The city spends $4,000 to $5,000 a year now just with patching, especially with the tracks," said Tracy Jackson, streets superintendent. "This should last four to five years."

It is expected to take four to five years to complete plans and for the city to secure funding.

The two aldermen absent at last night's meeting, finance chairman Verl Prather and Benny Huskins, had lent their approval during previous discussion.

Other street news

Discussion of a new street renovation process was begun. Some years ago it was decided that Lincoln would go to curb and gutter and asphalt on major streets like Elm Street, in order to address numerous flooding issues. There are, however, a large number of streets that need replacement because of getting crowned in the middle from the buildup of tar and chipping, but they do not have curbs and gutters now and do not have drainage issues that necessitate the use and extra expense of curbs and gutters. More streets could be replaced sooner if the cost were reduced.

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Mathon explained the proposed process. It would involve the city milling, regrading the bed and then leaving it for some settle time with traffic allowed. Then rent equipment that puts the final asphalt surface down and rolls it.

It is proposed to try this on the two blocks of Mill Street, which is parallel to Elm Street to the west between Fifth and Seventh streets.

It is $2,660 per day to rent the equipment and labor, plus materials. It would take 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 days and materials are estimated at $8,000 for Mill Street.

"There are a lot of streets in town that do not need curbs and gutters," Mathon said. "They do need drainage. This is not one of these."

Whittaker said that the matter would be raised for further discussion at next week's committee-of-the-whole workshop.

Property going up for sale

The city will be putting their two leaf vacuums up for sale. They are not used because they require more manpower than is now available, with two men per machine. This would take half my crew, Jackson said.

The vehicles have not been used since layoffs in the streets department about five or six years ago but continue to cost the city for annual maintenance. "This is equipment just sitting there that we could get money back off of," Whittaker said. "If I didn't wear anything for two years, I'd get rid of it," Neitzel said.

The better vacuum initially cost $14,000, and Jackson believes the city may be able to get $6,000 for it.

Currently homeowners are asked to bag leaves and leave them curbside. The city has been picking them up free of charge. Jackson said that since last year's new IEPA inspection he has been working on a new homeowner leaf policy. He will announce those changes when they are completed.

The department has been using an end loader to gather excess leaves.

A west-side property owner who is prepping several acres in hopes of enticing business development has asked permission to raise the city's right of way that runs adjacent to the properties. Burwell Management Company is leveling land and would like to also raise the field road, which the city owns, with clay dirt. The 30-foot-wide right of way would eventually serve as an extension of Connolley Road north of Route 10.

Issues of floodwaters and other concerns were discussed. Mathon said the company is working with an engineer. He has seen their plans and recommended approval. The council agreed.

[Jan Youngquist]

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