|The Public Works Committee proposed street repairs to five roads in 2016.|
The Public Works Committee proposed five streets for this year's Capital Street Resurfacing Program at a special meeting held yesterday in the Fort Thomas City Building. They include Barrett, Daisy Lane, Winding Way, Haywood Ct., and Gaddis Drive.
This year's street repairs are estimated to cost $264,787. Fort Thomas splits a portion of the cost—including asphalt overlay and the cost of concrete—with its residents, typically on a 50/50 basis. Costs are calculated by the amount of feet a property runs alongside a street.
"On Barrett and Gaddis we're looking at a complete curb replacement," says Frank Twehues, a civil engineer with CT Consultants. "And what we'd be doing is milling off the existing roll curb on the side—there's not much left of it—and constructing a six-inch vertical curb behind where the old roll curb was. So in essence, we'd be widening the road by a foot." This is the same treatment that was given to Arlington last year. When doing a complete curb replacement, residents would be taxed on only the cost of the concrete for the curb.
In addition to a complete curb replacement on Barrett and Gaddis, the Public Works Committee is recommending milling off the existing asphalt, adding SAMI (Stress Absorbing Membrane Interlayer) and then completing the project with a 2" asphalt overlay. The cost of this portion of the project would be split with residents.
Part of the proposed repairs for Daisy Lane, Winding Way and Haywood simply include spot curb repair. Because this is considered maintenance, no cost is shared with the residents. The cost of milling off the existing asphalt, adding SAMI and finishing with a 2" asphalt overlay as needed, would be split with residents.
Portions of the street repair work as detailed above are paid for via a street tax, or special assessment. Other repair work, such as sidewalk repair, is covered, in part, by franchise fees. A franchise fee is a fee imposed on, for example, a utility company in exchange for the use of public streets. The utility company collects the fee from its customers, pays it to the city, and then the city in turn uses the money for necessary repairs.
Last year there was talk of evaluating a franchise fee system for street repair in order to lessen the financial burden on residents. There was no further discussion of funding at yesterday's meeting.
When asked, City Administrative Office Ron Dill noted that reopening the discussion of franchise fees wasn't an initiative this year. Councilmember and Chair of the Public Works Committee Ken Bowman stated franchise fee funding requires careful and time-consuming evaluation. When asked if that was on the table for next year, Bowman stated, "I think the conversation should happen again about alternative funding."
Streets up for consideration in 2017 include Custis Ave., Washington Ave., LaFayette Ave., Waterworks Road, Lilac Lane, Highview and Diana Court. Washington Ave. will be widened in the first block, removing the grass strip that exists between the sidewalk and the curb, making the block safer. Problems with these streets include drainage issues and the need for costly pier walls, making the current estimated cost for next year $405,281.
Councilmember Jeff Bezold questioned whether widening Washington Ave. could be pushed up given the current safety concerns when turning onto the street from Highland. "Safety would trump maintenance or pot holes," Bezold says.
Bowman stated the driveways involved in the widening of Washington Ave. would need to be evaluated first. This is in addition to budget concerns as well as proximity issues—when bidding, it's cheaper to do streets that are closer in proximity to each other.
Mayor Eric Haas suggested the City replace the curb on the first block of Washington Ave. this year, if time permits, and then finish the project in 2017.
The Public Works Committee develops a 2-year Capital Street Resurfacing Program plan, all the while readjusting and reevaluating a 5-year plan, based on deterioration rates, water issues, etc. There is regular evaluation of roads as well as products used, including SAMI, which the City has now used for five years. Mayor Haas says he would like to know whether SAMI has, indeed, extended the life of recently repaired roads compared to roads repaired without the use of SAMI.
Also on the agenda was the discussion of crosswalks. General Services Foreman Tim Mattingly has spent the last year researching the myriad of options available for safer crosswalks. The current favorite is a yellow sign with LED lights that are activated when a walker pushes a button. Dill recommended implementing these safety improvements to five crosswalks to start, along with a campaign intended to educate drivers and walkers on its functionality.
As a result of this meeting all the proposals made will move forward in the form of a formal recommendation from the Public Works Committee before the City Council next week.