Hannibal City Engineer Mark Rees' street maintenance chart, as presented at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
City Engineer Mark Rees likes to say every time he drives down a city street, he’s designing it in his mind. His ideas for keeping those streets in drivable condition were sent back to the drawing board after he presented them to the Hannibal City Council Tuesday night.
The city’s asphalt streets break down as follows, based on their PASER ratings, a system of rating street conditions (PASER 1 is the worst, PASER 10 is the best):
• PASER 1: 1 mile
• PASER 2: 3.5 miles
• PASER 3: 5 miles
• PASER 4: 3.2 miles
• PASER 4A: 15.4 miles
• PASER 5: 12.3 miles
• PASER 6: 14.6 miles
• PASER 7: 7.7 miles
• PASER 8: 6.2 miles
• PASER 9: 6.3 miles
• PASER 10: 0.5 miles
Rees believes the city should focus on the streets in the middle of that range to keep them from degrading further. Rees’ ideas, in brief, call for chip-sealing and crack-sealing streets that are in mediocre condition. Both are forms of resurfacing.
He offered a possible allocation for the 2012 street repair budget as follows:
• Overlay 4-rated streets
• Crack-seal some 6- and 7-rated streets
• Choose one street to use as a pilot for chip-sealing
• Allocate $99,000 for contingencies such as spring “blow-ups” following the post-winter thaw
The condition of Hannibal’s streets is one of the biggest concerns among the city’s residents. However, funding for their repairs is one of the biggest concerns among the city’s leaders. Street repairs come from a fund generated by a half-cent sales tax, but City Manager Jeff LaGarce said sales taxes have slumped in recent months, although he noted that he received a “good, but not great” report last month.
Complicating the matter, although chip-sealing is relatively inexpensive — $35,000 per mile — it has seen a fair amount of backlash from the City Council after Chester Bross Construction performed what they believe was substandard chip-sealing work on 18 miles of city streets last year. Bross has contended that it was asked to chip-seal streets whose condition was too far gone to allow for that level of maintenance.
“After the last fiasco, I don’t know if I’m ready for chip-seal,” Mayor Roy Hark said Tuesday.
Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Knickerbocker noted that state highways in town such as Mo. 168 (Palmyra Road) and Missouri Route T (Fulton Avenue) were chip-sealed and are in great shape. Both Knickerbocker, also the First Ward councilman, and Rees posited that perhaps different materials were used on roads that were already in somewhat better shape.
Bross’ large chip-seal job “may not have been done the way it could have been done,” Knickerbocker said, suggesting that Rees ought to look into other materials and methods.
In sending Rees’ street maintenance plan back for further work, other councilmen suggested that Rees should examine other methods he floated at Tuesday’s meeting, such as micro-paving.
Any less expensive means of street maintenance are essential, Rees said. Complete reconstruction of every street in town would take more than 75 years at current funding levels.
Fourth Ward Councilman Barry Louderman concurred with that idea. “Anything that we can do to stretch our dollar … I think we should definitely look at,” he said.
Tuesday’s street maintenance plan didn’t include a schematic for which specific streets will be maintained when. It appears that often-political battle will have to wait.