Road rehab: City crews repair streets, ready for Sheridan Road project

ESCANABA – Department of Public Works Director Bill Farrell met with the Escanaba City Council Monday to discuss the department’s work as part of the city’s budget hearings.

“The Public Works Department includes all the park and rec facilities, all the streets, a lot of the underground structure…,” said Farrell.

In addition, the Department of Public Works also maintains city parks, city vehicles from all departments, and boulevard trees throughout Escanaba – all 7,000 of them.

Both major and local streets are the responsibility of the department. Escanaba has approximately 28.22 miles of major streets and 54.85 miles of local streets. Major streets are those streets deemed particularly important by the city, and local streets are all other streets within the city.

Between the two funds, the city has $2,159,854 for road improvements and maintenance in the beginning of the 2013-14 fiscal year. These funds are used for new construction, street preservation and repair, snow and ice control and removal, engineering, and other street projects.

“The major street project this year would be Sheridan Road, the (portion) from approximately 10th to 15th,” said City Manager Jim O’Toole.

Sheridan Road will be resurfaced and repairs will be made to the curbing along the street. Other streets in the city will be evaluated, prioritized, ranked, and surface treatments will be determined at a later date. A public hearing will he held before June 30 to determine which areas need attention, but emphasis will be placed on Sheridan Road from 10th Avenue North to 15th Avenue North.

To help fund the Sheridan Road project, the city has received a $187,500 grant from the state and is the process of trying to secure additional funds. Currently, for capital outlay street preservation the city has budgeted a total of $231,000 in the major fund and $100,000 in the local street fund.

“Hopefully, we’ll be successful in getting the whole street done, which will probably require some additional local money but it’s too good to pass up,” said O’Toole.

A major concern for Escanaba and other municipalities in the state is the availability of Act 51 funds. The Act governs the distribution of revenue from fuel taxes for road improvement projects.

“I’m in constant communication with Sen. Casperson and Rep. McBroom on the need to get the Act 51 road monies down to the local level more efficiently and more of it,” said O’Toole.

Some of the funding received from Act 51 is applied to road repair and some is related to snow plowing and removal and ice control.

The city has recommended $161,824 be set aside for snow plowing related costs on both major and local streets in the 2013-14 fiscal year. This is $2,000 less than was budgeted in 2012-13, however, the city does not have accurate estimates for the actual cost of snow plowing, snow removal, or ice control in 2012-13.

“We still didn’t know what was going to happen in February and March and April, so it will be interesting to see where those numbers are,” said City Controller Mike Dewar.

A total of $232,203 has been budgeted for snow removal and $119,173 has been budgeted for ice control measures such as sanding.

As winter ends, potholes and cracks become a problem on all streets in the city, and Public Works crews are already out patching the streets.

“The potholes were actually probably below normal this year,” said Farrell, who added cold winters are harder on roads. Just over $122,000 has been budgeted for patching and crack filling on major and local streets.