Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Public Works Committee Approves Street Repair Program for 2017

L to R: Kevin Barbian, Rob Hans, John Slawter and Ron Dill. FTM file. 
The 2017 proposed street repair program was passed today at the Public Works committee in the Centennial Room of the Fort Thomas City Building. The proposal will now await full council's approval before being acted upon. Work crews could begin this summer.

The proposal was passed unanimously by chairman, Ken Bowman, and members Jeff Bezold and John Slawter after receiving input from City Administrative Officer, Ron Dill, and CT Consultants Senior Project Manager, Rob Hans, who recently retired as the Chief District Engineer for District 6 of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Also in attendance was Mayor Eric Haas, General Services Director Kevin Barbian and General Services Superintendent, Tim Mattingly.

The streets that will be repaired this year as part of the annual program are Custis Avenue, Washington Avenue, Lafayette Avenue, Lilac Lane, Highview Drive and Diana Court for a total cost of $260,000. The total expenditures for the program, which also includes a road stabilization on Burnet Ridge for $100,000 as well as engineering fees totaling $31,000 among other items comes to a total of $532,000.

Last year, the street repair program was proposed to have cost $264,787.

RELATED: Public Works Committee Proposed 2016 Street Repair Program

The city keeps a running tally on streets that could be candidates for the repair program with a composite rating known as a "Pavement Condition Index." A low score indicates a street that may be a candidate for repair while a high score indicates a street in good condition. On this year's proposed list, Lilac Lane had the lowest rating at 49. Washington Avenue had the highest rating of the group at 68.

"These ratings are not absolute numbers," said Dill. "Our staff takes in other factors like drainage issues. What drags these numbers up or down varies from street to street. You kind of have to know a little of the back stories."

With the addition of Hans to CT Consultants, which is being contracted by the city to help with the engineering of the program, they have added institutional knowledge.

"I've been a resident in Fort Thomas for 50 years, which helps when we are driving around and observing the streets. I know where all of them are," he said. "A lot of what we find can be subjective. When you're looking at visual cracking of the streets, everyone is going to see that a little differently."

Since the 1930's, Fort Thomas has split 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. The city is budgeting $130,000 on the special assessment tax from its residents this year.

Other repair work, such as sidewalk repair, is covered, in part, by franchise fees, which is not an assessed program. 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. This year, the city is budgeting a revenue of $100,000 from franchise fees.

Over the last few years, there has been discussion of evaluating a franchise fee system for street repair in order to lessen the financial burden on residents, however there was no further discussion of funding at today's meeting. A public hearing will be scheduled for March to hear public input on the street program.

The city also uses revenue from the Road Aid Fund to help fund the program. This year, they are budgeting $300,000 from that fund.

"Unfortunately that number is not going up, it's going down," said Dill.

The city had also budgeted $100,000 for Burnet Ridge, which had its street repaired in 2015, because according to Dill, there is failure adjacent to the road.

"Typically we have had these issues fixed by piering the roads, like recently on Tower Hill Road, but we will be exploring other opportunities to fix this. There will be a full report before we start work on this," he said. "The good news and bad news is that it has to be done, but it's not critical."

Also a part of the 2017 proposed Street Repair Program expenditures is $50,000 that will be banked into the reserve fund for the eventual rebuilding of Pentland Avenue, a main thoroughfare that connects Grand Avenue and Highland Avenue. In 2015, Churchill Drive was rebuilt similarly for an estimated $342,000.

Previously, other Fort Thomas streets that have been rebuilt include Summit Avenue, Garden Way and Holiday Lane. 

Hans said that a rebuild for Pentland will cost around $500,000, which is the reason for putting money away in the reserve fund. 

"We had a geotechnical report done three years ago on Pentland," said Dill. "There is no under-draining system, but we have done a number of things that have mitigated the drainage problems quite a bit. The biggest issue is the percolation of water in the slabs on the lower section of Pentland. We have replaced slabs in the last twenty years, so it's not going to maintain itself. We're going to have to do the under-draining system at some point."

It hasn't been determined when Pentland Avenue would be rebuilt or if will be replaced with asphalt or rebuilt with a concrete slab. Hans said that the cost would be about the same. 

"It could happen in any year," said Dill. 

Streets Repair Candidates for 2018:
Waterworks Road
Vernon Avenue
James Avenue
Mayfield Avenue

Street Repair Candidates for 2019:
Crowell Avenue
Grant Street
Sheridan Avenue
Sherman Avenue
Fairview Place

Other Streets for Consideration:
Hawthorne Avenue 
Tower Hill Road
Wilbers Lane
David Drive
Sabre Court 
Pentland Avenue
Donnelly Drive
Kyles Lane
Boardwalk
Park Place 

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