City officials told residents of Candlewick Lane that their street now qualifies for a federal grant to completely rebuild the roadway and give them a new street but the project could be two to three years in the future.
Candlewick, which links South Highway N to the industrial park, is unique among city streets. It was never built for heavy traffic and the roadbed is plastic soil, which will not drain, causing constant water seepage in the street and pooling in front of driveways.
Adding to substandard construction problems, the one-block-long street is traveled by employees in the industrial park and trucks making deliveries there.
Jim Tucker, who has lived at 201 Candlewick for 12 years, said he and other residents have had enough.
“We see tractor-trailers and tankers,” Tucker said.
Speaking at the July 15 board of aldermen meeting, Tucker said things just keep getting worse.
“We want to know what’s going on out there,” Tucker said. “The condition is terrible. There is more traffic than on most city streets, the street is broken up, water is running down the street.”
Mayor Jeff Palmore said Candlewick had been the topic of a great deal of conversation among officials recently, including the question of how the street was put in, the base, surface and stormwater conditions. He said residents’ complaints of traffic had also been discussed.
City Engineer Dan Rahn explained to Tucker that East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGW), the regional transportation planning agency, had reclassified Candlewick as a collector road and the city can now seek federal funds to completely rebuild it.
“With federal funds we would build a whole street,” Rahn said.
That would include new base, pavement, curbs, and storm drains.
EWGW will send the next round of requests for proposals to local government in February 2015 and Pacific can apply for funds to rebuild Candlewick.
Ed Gass, who dealt with EWGW for 22 years as public works director, said the city could never apply for federal funds for Candlewick until the street was reclassified as a collector or arterial roadway.
But the fact that the city can now apply does not guarantee that the funding will be approved or that things will go quickly once approval is received.
Tucker said the city has known about the problem for a long time and residents have had to live with the problems.
Gass said Candlewick was built with a grant to get traffic out of the industrial park. It was built by the lowest bidder and the firm poured the street mostly by hand.
“The engineer had no money for storm sewers and just barely enough to put the concrete in,” Gass said.
Tucker said since the street was not designed to carry heavy traffic he would like to see the street be closed to all traffic but emergency vehicles, but Gass said since the city would be applying for state and federal money the city could not close it to through traffic.
If it meant foregoing federal funds in order to get the street closed, Tucker said he believed he and his neighbors would be happier.
“If it were closed the people who live there would take care of it themselves,” Tucker said.
Gass said the right solution is for the city to repair the worst sections and apply for funds for a new street.
“We should have people taking out those broken pieces and fixing that,” Gass said.
Traffic is as much a concern to Candlewick residents as water and broken concrete, Tucker said.
Palmore said he wanted to assure the residents that the city was aware of their concerns.
“Please recognize that a problem of that magnitude is not something we (the city) can do quickly,” Palmore said. “We can make some necessary repairs but we’re limited on funds. We can’t build a new road but you are not forgotten.”
“Repairs can go a long way to hold us over,” Palmore said.
Gass said the best short-term resolution was for the city street department to pull out the bad spots, put in a new base and put the road back.
“If we don’t have the maintenance people who can do it, let’s get some bids out, mark the area and put out a request for proposal (RFP) so we can get a contractor in here and get it fixed.”
Mike Bates, operations committee chair, said the committee could call a second meeting and invite residents of Candlewick Lane to bring their concerns to the committee.
Carol Johnson said she and Steve Myers, who represent Ward 2, had met with Candlewick homeowners.
“At that time we knew it had qualified for federal money so we can’t close it,” Johnson said. “I have an email base to notify residents of a meeting,” Johnson said.
Tucker wanted to revisit the residents’ concerns about truck traffic but Palmore said the problem could not be solved during the meeting.
Myers noted that the GPS mapping companies have been notified and have told the city that their systems have been updated but they cannot update what is on the individual trucks. He said the city might be able to help the drivers with larger signs on Highway N, Payne, Fourth and LaMar.
“I’m at a loss at how to stop the trucks,” Palmore said. “Once they get there, they are there. This (meeting) is not the forum. We need to take this to the operations committee and discuss all the issues and how to attack each one. This is assuming we get federal money. If there is no money we’ll have to go to plan B.”