Recent patch jobs of city streets are only a temporary fix to get through the winter months.

That’s according to John Nilges, director of public services, who Monday told the Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee that asphalt patches on potholes will be addressed again come this spring or summer.

“Winter has been hard on every street in town,” Nilges added. “This is just to get us through the winter.”

He explained that just a few years ago the city had filled trenches in the streets with rock. 

“We would constantly have rock in the streets and be putting rock back in  — we went to a system with cold patch asphalt that can be placed in the wintertime as a temporary solution to get us into spring when we can come back and do the permanent fix,” he said.

“It’s an improvement of what you had before but the perception through winter is it is a pretty shoddy patch job,” Nilges further added. “It is just to get us through winter to get us on the streets in summertime.”

The city is considering spray painting “temp” on the patched areas to identify them for future work and to notify the public that more work will be done to repair the street, he explained.

“It is a check for our guys. If I start seeing temp jobs in the middle of June, than I have a problem, so it helps out just to educate everybody on what we are doing,” he said. 

Summer Plans

Nilges noted city staff still is discussing summer maintenance projects. 

“We are evaluating how March and everything thaws out . . . we have a short list of streets to overlay,” he stated. “We are also looking at different maintenance procedures, rather than do overlays, that we have done over the past 10 years.” 

He said some local streets could be sealed to maintain them, which would be less costly than an overlay.

“If we can seal them and then push them out another five, six, seven years — we can try to stretch those dollars a little further,” Nilges said.

“I don’t have a change in anything we are doing yet and I am not proposing that.” 

Transportation committee member Bill Miller Sr. questioned the condition of Westlink Drive.

“If you don’t get a grant, the city is going to be faced with some major repairs,” he commented. 

The city applied for Surface Transportation Program (STP) funding for a Westlink Drive overlay project, including a new right-turn lane onto Bluff Road. The city is seeking a $600,000 grant.

The grants are 80-20 cost-share funding mechanisms funneled through the East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGW) utilizing state and federal dollars. Under EWGW’s annual Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), municipalities are responsible for 20 percent of the funds to resurface, build sidewalks and other upgrades to roadways.

“If worst comes to worst and we have to pave that, we will have to focus our funds and do that,” Nilges replied.

He stated one of the worst areas on Westlink Drive is in front of the Rawlings plant.

Challenges

As the city transitions to March and April when asphalt plants open, crews will focus on maintenance of streets.

Nilges said he will “challenge” the street crews to reach two goals: conduct spot repairs and patches, rather than whole road overlays, and replace sidewalks.

“I think we are going to have the manpower available to do so,” he said, “Last year we were down in the riverfront (area) quite a bit working on the conduit project, which absolutely zapped manpower from the street department. This year we are not on that project.”