Engineer: 14 city streets failing
by Rick DeClue · News · February 01, 2013

A city engineer identified 14 streets in most need of repair around the city, and the West Branch City Council plans to consider how to work those in with repairs under the roadways.
Transportation engineer Leland Belding of Veenstra & Kimm presented a map at the Jan. 22 city council meeting that prioritized surfaces on all city streets.

The map showed 14 sections that indicated failing surfaces. Many were located in the downtown area, including:

• Poplar Street

• First Street between Main and Green, and from College to its northern terminus

• College Street between First and Downey

Streets outside of downtown included:

• Green Street between Fifth and Sixth

• Fifth Street between Green and College, and south of Main Street

• Oliphant west of Downey

• Foster and Maple Streets north of Main

The map also showed streets around the proposed development of the Cookson property as failing.

Earlier in the meeting, the city presented planned street work for the next year. The only site that matches the engineers’ failing list is Poplar Street – a $35,000 project for an asphalt overlay — the street City Hall sits on.

The city also plans to install curb and gutters plus asphalt resurfacing on Green Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets at a cost of $35,000. This is one block west of the engineers’ block of Green Street noted on the map.

Failing streets can require repair, resurfacing or removal and replacement, Belding said. The failing streets also include a mix of surfaces from sealcoat to asphalt to concrete.

Belding said the optimal point to make improvements lies where minimal dollars can be spent to extend the life of the street as long as possible before replacement is required. An effective street plan is intended to provide guidance for decisions in a five- to 10-year timeframe, he said.

He stressed that this map addressed street surfaces only. Other considerations include things below the surface such as soil and rock conditions and utility infrastructure.

Traffic volume is also a major factor, Belding said. High-volume streets tend to receive more attention than streets that serve only a handful of residences or businesses.

Public Works Director Matt Goodale said the city continues to locate water leaks and sewer problems. This, plus utility infrastructure, represents a mixed picture depending on age, changing standards as the city grows and prior attention to maintenance.

Belding said fixing the surface makes more sense if the underlying infrastructure is in good shape in order to prevent digging it up later.

Of course, Belding said, money is also a factor.

According to City Administrator Matt Muckler, West Branch’s street maintenance can come from the city’s general fund, the road use tax fund, debt service and, if voters allow it, the Local Option Sales Tax.

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