Mayor Herb Adams said the city wants to rebuild Candlewick Lane, but it will be costly and he does not want to mislead residents who live there into thinking improvements could be done soon.
“We’re looking at how to fix the road and we want to do it right,” Adams said, “but we don’t have answers yet.”
Speaking at the July 16 board meeting, the mayor cautioned aldermen not to mislead the residents who live on the road into thinking a fix for their troubled road was imminent.
“At this point, we don’t know anything, we’re just looking at it,” he said.
Candlewick Lane, which connects South Highway N with the Midwest Industrial Park, was never built to support the traffic it now carries, according to Alderman Ed Gass, who was the public works commissioner when the road was built.
“There is no base under the road and the soft plastic earth expands and contracts due to moisture causing continued deterioration,” Gass said.
Homeowners who live on the one-block residential section between Highway N and the industrial park have pleaded with the city to repair the road and to prevent vehicles from the industrial park from using it.
Now, it turns out, that traffic from the industrial court could be the key to attracting federal funds to build a new road. City Engineer Dan Rahn presented costs to completely rebuild the road at the request of the mayor.
To tear out the old road, construct a new road, gutters and sidewalks, the section between Highway N and the industrial park would cost $200,000. To rebuild the section from the residential block to Midwest Drive in the same manner would cost an additional $500,000, Rahn said.
“This is the way it should have been built in the first place,” Adams said.
Gass urged Rahn to contact East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGW), the metropolitan transportation planning agency, to determine how the road is classified.
“It should be classified as a collector,” Gass said. “If it is, it would qualify for federal funds.”
If it is a collector, the city could request federal funds to rebuild the street with an 80-20 cost split.
“If it is a collector we could do it for $50,000,” City Administrator Harold Selby said. “That would make it a lot easier to do.”
Johnny Smith, EWGW traffic specialist who reviews road classifications, said Candlewick is currently a local road and has not been classified a collector, but the city would have an opportunity to apply for reclassification in November.
Reclassification applications will be posted on the EWGW website for the month of October as well. A classification procedure manual also can be found there.
Smith said the road could qualify as a minor or major collector if it provides access to shopping centers, schools, major businesses, city offices or other major roads. The amount of traffic on the road also would be a factor.
If he receives an application from the city in November, the following month Smith and a representative of MoDOT would visit the street to review conditions.
“We’ll be looking at whether the road provides a lot of access to other roads and how much it is used,” Smith said. “We’ll evaluate why city officials think it is not a local road.”
Even if the determination is that the road is still a local road, there is an appeal process where local governments can ask EWGW for another review.
“We’re happy to make it more than a local street,” Smith said. “We’ll do whatever we can to help them.”
Gass has been stressing that the city needs to begin serious work on the road. He urged aldermen to agree to rebuilding the street by stripping out and rebuilding one section at a time. He said the sections that have already been rebuilt are not deteriorating.
Ward 2 Alderman Carol Johnson resisted the piecemeal repairs saying the residents deserve a street that is free of potholes and does not have water flowing on it constantly.
“The residents of Candlewick are not here while we’re having this discussion,” Adams said. “I wish they were here. I don’t want to mislead them into thinking that repairs to their street will happen soon.”
The mayor said he recalled when the road was constructed, Gass tried to talk aldermen into building it with a subbase but they resisted his suggestions in order to cut cost.
“Sometimes doing a job the cheapest way costs more in the long run and that’s what we’re faced with now,” Adams said.
Johnson said she was gratified by the discussion.
“This is the most constructive discussion we’ve ever had on the road since I’ve been an alderman,” Johnson said.