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Fort panel advances $867,500 streets budget

April 28, 2017 GMT

Continuing a trend of increased spending on street rehabilitation and maintenance, the Fort Atkinson Public Works Committee on Thursday advanced a recommendation to the city council approval of a 2017 street program with an $867,500 budget.

City engineer Andy Selle said the budget includes $450,000 from the general fund, approximately $250,000 from the municipal vehicle registration fee (wheel tax) and a $167,500 carryover from 2016.

Based on last year’s material estimates, Selle projected that approximately $590,000 be spent under maintenance and $160,000 on rehabilitant work. The remainder includes approximately $20,000 in miscellaneous and $75,000 of contingency funds that will include a parking lot reconstruction at Ralph Park. Cost of the work has not been determined because it might involve a restructuring of the lot to accommodate those concerned about their cars being hit by home run or foul balls.

Prior to approval of the 2017 street program, the city engineer offered a general overview of roadwork within the city.

Selle said that based on their amount of use, streets have different lifespans. A low-traffic street can last up to 40 years before having to be completely rehabilitated (reconstructed). Conversely, a high-traffic street reaches that threshold within 20 years.

Each year, city officials consider an area of streets to be pulverized and resurfaced. In addition, a number of streets in a similar area are chipsealed. A scaled rating system of one to 10 is used, with 10 being new streets and one being roadways in the most need of repair.

For the 2017 street program, Selle explained that the intention would be to continue to focus on maintenance of those roadways rated five and above.

“After 2018, what we are going to see is a very dramatic shift toward more of the rehabilitation type of work,” the city engineer said.

The bulk of the street program work in 2017 will be maintenance-based involving sealcoating and crack filling with a limited amount of rehabilitation.

Selle said the large carryover of funds from 2016 resulted from the sharing of costs of the roadwork with the city’s water department.

He noted that when water main’s are replaced about a third of the street is torn up.

For the 2016 street program, when mains were replaced during the road projects, the water utility budget funded one-third of the overall costs of the work on Wilson Avenue, Talcott Avenue and Charles Street.

The assessment to the water utility was not factored into the 2016 street program and resulted in a $167,000 carryover.

“I think that is a good approach because the way the Water Utility works with the Public Service Commission is that they require you to spend money before you can actually get money,” Selle said. “We are beginning to ramp up our spending in that utility in order to make sure we position ourselves for what we anticipated is going to be a fairly large investment in our water infrastructure in the near future.”

The city engineer reported that about a half-mile total of roadway would be reconstructed in 2017.

A section of Endl Boulevard south of the intersection with Highland Avenue will be pulverized and rebuilt.

In addition, he said the city portion of Banker Road is slated to redone, as is a portion of Lexington Avenue between Madison Avenue and Commonwealth Drive.

Lastly, Selle said, Water and Mechanic streets around the municipal building will be redone.

“Water Street in particular is in really bad shape,” he said. “If we are going to do one, we are going to do both. We want to be able to visually show the public that is using this particular part of the city and these others quite frequently, that we are making some progress with the additional wheel tax fees.”

Selle said he believes this method will go a long way to getting rid of some of the bumpy roads.

On the maintenance side, a total of 54,912 linear feet of roadway will be crack-filled by a contractor, he said. The city’s public works crews will complete 40,000 linear feet. For visual purposes, a city block is approximately 400 linear feet.

Sealcoating or chipsealing will be done on another 54,912 linear feet of roadway or about 10.5 miles of roadway.

The purpose of chipsealing, he said, is to create a three-eighths-inch coating of stone and emulsion on top of the street.

Unlike 2016, when a limestone aggregate was utilized for the chipsealing, the intention is to utilize a black slag. In addition, due to a substantial loss of aggregate on many of the chipsealed streets completed in 2016, Scott Construction of Lake Delton will be returning to redo those roads with the black slag in 2017.

Also, Wolf Paving of Lake Mills will be returning to redo portions of the paving work on Wilson and Talcott avenues.

Generally, with one exception, the additional work will come at no cost to the city due to the prior work not meeting contractual obligations and being covered by a warranty.

Selle noted that he has not yet investigated what it takes to not select the low bidder in the event that Wolf Paving bids for the work in 2017.

“If Wolf Paving came in and bid low and technically should be selected, I?don’t know what is required for us to not take that bid because of experience before,” he said, noting that it would be a question for the city attorney to analyze.

Council member Beth Gehred questioned how the city communicates to residents how the tax dollars, particularly the wheel tax dollars, are being spent.

“Communication on the street projets on Wilson, Charles and Talcott in 2016 was with the individuals on those streets,” Selle said, noting that they had emails from those residents and kept them up to date with those projects.

At the larger level, with 10 miles of chipsealed streets, he is not in a position to do that.

“We have talked internally about how to market ourselves a little bit,” Selle said. “I think there will be some traction on that maybe next year.”

The city engineer pointed out that it is primarily a manpower issue, citing the Daily Union as one of the best resources to spread the word.

“We need someone that is an IT type that could get us up and running on a Facebook, Twitter and the website and refresh that information regularly. It is a bigger job to tell that story than what we have the ability to do right now,” Selle concluded.