Monday, June 16, 2014
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City to adopt ordinances protecting new and brick streets

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[June 16, 2014]  LINCOLN - Tuesday evening the Lincoln City Council discussed making a change to city ordinances that would hold construction and utility companies more accountable for proper restoration of excavated streets.

This topic, according to Mayor Keith Snyder was coming up as a result of work being done on Pulaski Street.

The Pulaski Street project is a multi-million dollar investment in infrastructure for the city of Lincoln. The project has included removing old brick streets coated with asphalt, repair and replacement of antiquated sewer lines, and finishing the road with a 50-year lifespan concrete surface.

Snyder said as work has progressed, it has been noted in a few areas that the water lines owned by Illinois American Water are in need of repair or replacement. Illinois American was approached about this and asked to do the work now, before the new pavement was laid down.

However, the water company said they couldn’t, that it wasn’t in their budget at this time.

At some point in the future, the water company will have to address the problems on Pulaski Street. When they do, their work will require them to tear up a section of the new concrete road.

Snyder said what he wanted was language that would assure the water company and any other company working on utilities under newly constructed roadway, that they would be required to replace an entire panel or section of the road and not be allowed to do a mere patch job.

As this was being discussed, several of the alderman showed their support for the recommendation. Melody Anderson said she felt like the water company in this case had been given an opportunity to save money by doing the work now. They had not done so.

Because of this, she felt it was only reasonable that they should be required to go to the expense of making the road right again once their work was done. She punctuated her comments saying, “I don’t want streets that are all cut apart again.”

Marty Neitzel voiced her agreement, and Jeff Hoinacki commented he like the idea of making a seven year rule. The rule referred to the length of time for which a road should be considered “new construction.” With the language Snyder was asking for, after seven years Pulaski Street would no longer be considered new, therefore the mandate to replace the entire section of road would not apply.

Neitzel though wondered if seven years was long enough. She noted that time passes more quickly than one would think. In addition, the Pulaski Street project is concrete with a much longer lifespan than asphalt. She suggested the length of time be stretched to 10 years. The aldermen all seemed to agree with the suggestion.

One big question was how to define a panel. Joni Tibbs said there had been a similar issue arise in 1991 with the other end of Pulaski Street. That end had been done in concrete, and the need arose for utility work. She suggested the city might be able to go back to meeting minutes from that time and see how it was handled then.

Snyder said the city might also be able to define a panel or specific section by the existing expansion joints.

Moving on, the next portion of the change in the ordinances involved the reconstruction of brick streets.

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The city is interested in preserving brick streets whenever it is feasible. However, Snyder said right now there are conflicting codes addressing excavation of brick streets. He said in city code 8-2-6 it states reconstruction of excavated areas is to be done with new or used bricks of similar shape, size and color.

However, further into the code in 8-2-12 it states that excavated brick may be replaced with dyed and stamped concrete.

This topic becomes complicated because the city doesn’t need to require brick restoration on streets that it doesn’t plan to try to preserve, but the question then became how to keep track of what is to stay brick and what can be repaired with another material.

Snyder asked the council if this part of the request needed more time for discussion; did the council want to consider how they would define this rule? Neitzel said, yes, they probably did need more time.

Scott Cooper commented though that perhaps there should not be a precise definition of what streets would have to go back to brick. He suggested that it might be better to evaluate each situation as it occurred.

It was questioned as to whether that would make more work for the street department. It was consequently suggested that there were probably certain streets in town that could be declared historical and mandated to stay brick. That would lessen the amount of evaluation the street department had to do.

Anderson said she thought this was not as big an issue as it appeared. She surmised that department heads were capable of making that type of evaluation and decision as needed.

Snyder agreed saying the process of excavating the street would start with John Lebegue in the Building and Safety office and also include Walt Landers with the Street Department, and those two would be able to determine what needed to be done.

On the other hand, Snyder said he also liked the idea of going ahead and identifying historical streets now.

Snyder finally concluded that the brick portion of the request for a change in ordinance needed to be further examined. He asked the council if they would separate the new construction portion from the brick so they could go ahead and vote on the first part next week.

It was agreed that is what should be done. The council will be expected to vote on an ordinance to establish what new road construction is, and set the parameters for repair of new roads following excavation.


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