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story.lead_photo.caption Hunter McFerrin/Siloam Sunday An active construction site that is one of the projects slated to be finished in 2018, located on Elgin Street in front of Northside Elementary School.

A long-term proposal to overhaul the city's infrastructure was approved by members of the city board on Tuesday night.

For city officials such as board member Carol Smiley, its completion is a much-needed achievement.

"I am glad to see this not only for the streets, but also for the sidewalks," Smiley said. "I think that it is important to maintain the sidewalks as well as (create) new sidewalks. Of all of the comments that I get, streets and sidewalks are usually right up there at the top, so I do appreciate this document, thank you."

Resolution No. 19-18, pertains to the "Siloam Springs Street and Sidewalk Maintenance and Repair Master Plan," which is a long-term plan that will be done incrementally in periods of three years at a time, according to the document, which was published on the city website near the beginning of the month as part of the July 3 city board meeting agenda.

It outlines specific goals for specified areas of the city that have been set for each year, and so far, goals for 2018, 2019 and 2020 have been set. At the end of each three-year period, it will have to be brought back to the city board of directors for review and to make any necessary modifications, according to the document.

For 2018, some of the goals have either already been completed or are still underway and expected to be finished within the next few months, said Public Works Director Steve Gorszczyk. The reason that the plan has already begun but was just approved is due to the fact that the goals set for 2018 were already included as part of the 2018 budget. The approval of the plan Tuesday night was simply a formal adoption by the city of the plan, which has been anticipated for a long time because it gives them and the public a clear idea of exactly what the plans are for the public works department with each passing year.

As mentioned previously, the plan is focused upon two areas of infrastructure -- streets and sidewalks -- and does not intend to address smaller projects such as patching potholes or repairing minor curb damage, as funds to address such projects are already included as a line item in the 2018 budget, Gorszczyk said. Instead, it looks at the bigger picture.

"The plan is focused on the principle that preventive and rehabilitative street maintenance is more cost effective than reconstruction," according to the document. "While there are going to be sections of streets that will require reconstruction, the concept is that preventative maintenance is the application of the right treatment on the right street at the right time to save or delay further large expenditures."

Streets

There are currently 114 miles of streets in the city, according to the document. In 2016, an assessment was conducted by First Step Pavement Management, which ultimately ranked the condition of the city's streets on a scale of one to five, with one being "lost," or "poor" and five being "excellent," according to the document. Listed below is what they found.

• Poor/Lost - 1.5 miles

• Critical - 5 miles

• Fair - 63 miles

• Good - 44 miles

• Excellent - 1/2 mile

Since streets with a ranking of three or higher comprise the majority of the total amount of streets in the city, most of the goals that are listed for this year, 2019 and 2020 address streets that are ranked three or higher, Gorszczyk said. Another reason that streets ranked three or higher will be receiving the most attention is due to the fact that while streets with a ranking of three and above can be treated primarily through less costly means such as fog seal, which can prolong their current quality for three to five years, fixing those that are classified as two or below require much more expensive measures, such as a complete rebuild or to mill and overlay the street in question.

For example, in 2020, there is a project set to do a complete rebuild of the section of Kenwood Street that stretches east from Lincoln Street to U.S. Highway 412 and has a ranking of 1-2, according to the document. This project will address 1,600 feet of street and is projected to cost $1,213,600. In contrast, there is also a project in 2020 to fog seal the section of West Benton Street that lies between Dogwood Street and Broadway Street, which has a length of 4,100 feet and is projected to cost $4,500. This point was mentioned by most members of the board, one of whom being Frank Johnson, in an effort to help residents understand that the decisions to prioritize certain streets and sidewalks over others is strictly based upon the amount of funding available, and the varying amounts that different projects can cost.

"We budget everything; I might be able to take a dollar and buy a dozen of eggs but I cannot buy a loaf of bread and that is about the way this sounds," Johnson said. "There may be a case where one section of street (that needs repairs) is not quite as long as another one (that needs repairs) is, but, we are doing the smaller one eventually because we have the money to do it with, due to a grant, and we just may not have the money for the other, and people do not seem to get that."

For 2018, the projects include the widening of a 2,650-foot section of Kenwood Street which will require a complete rebuild and cost $1,236,900, according to the document. Also included is a mill and overlay of a 2,665 feet section of Elgin Street that lies between North Carl Street and North Wright Street, which is currently ongoing and expected to be finished before the beginning of the school year, since its construction is taking place mostly near Northside Elementary School. In addition, Gorszczyk said that the fog sealing and some other construction projects spanning a surface area of 87,750 square feet around downtown were included in the goals for 2018 and has already been completed at a cost of $11,605.

As for 2019 and 2020, there is a combined total of eight new projects that will address a total of 24,605 feet of streets at a total expenditure of $2,132,499.

Sidewalks

There are currently 57 miles of sidewalks in the city, according to the document. Although there will also be more sidewalk surveys to come in the near future. In October 2017, a survey was conducted by Precision Sidewalks that looked at 16.7 miles of the total amount, Gorszczyk said. Similarly to the company who conducted the assessment for the streets, the sidewalks were classified into rankings of high, middle and low priority.

High priority areas are defined as those that cannot be passed by a wheelchair, middle-priority areas are those that can be passed with a wheelchair, but with some degree of difficulty and low-priority areas are those that may have some surface-level damage, but that are passable in wheelchairs and the concrete is not easily susceptible to structural damage in the foreseeable future. Ultimately, the survey produced four key findings, which are listed below.

• 695 repairable trip hazards.

• 66 high-priority areas in which the average length in need of replacement is 25 feet.

• 70 middle-priority areas in which the average length in need of replacement is 17 feet.

• 75 low-priority areas in which the average length in need of replacement is 12 feet.

As for trip hazards, there is a line item included in the 2018 budget for sidewalk repairs that amounts to $35,000, Gorszczyk said. It is estimated that repairing all of them would cost $43,480, because of this, the public works department elected to repair those that span from ½-inch to two inches in length, as these are considered to present biggest hazards for pedestrians and those using wheelchairs. This repair is estimated to cost $24,650 and will address 269 of the 695; the remainder of the trip hazards are approximately ⅜-inches to ½-inch, which will be addressed in 2019 budget through the line item in the budget for sidewalk repairs.

As for the high, middle and low priority areas, while the specifics of the times and locations in which the first projects will take place have not been confirmed, they will be paid for through capital spending that is part of the yearly budget, Gorszczyk said. There will also be new sidewalks as part of the plan.

Those planned for 2018 include one on Maxwell Street, which Gorszczyk said was started, yet had to be delayed due to the ongoing construction of a new parking lot, and another that has already been completed that begins on Mt. Olive Street, continues onto East Lake Francis Drive up to Eliana Chacon Memorial Park. As for the overall purpose of developing the plan, the main reason was based out of a desire to put into writing a concrete plan for the future tasks of public works department that can be accessed and understood by residents and city officials, Gorszczyk said.

"(The plan) is a written commitment by the public works department to start investing time into repairing streets and sidewalks," Gorszczyk said. "That is why this plan was put together, because we said 'okay, we understand that our crews have big water and sewer line projects, but it is also important that we specify the projects we are going to be doing on streets and sidewalks.'"

All in all, having been aware of the plan for about a month now, following a June 5 workshop, city board members such as Director Brad Burns expressed positive remarks about it.

"I am excited that we are starting with something and that it will be available for those that are interested in the public to see what we have got going on," Burns said. "I just would remind everybody, it is a first step, and it does, as the mayor pointed out, have some flexibility in it. I know it has been asked for by a few folks on my end, so I appreciate you guys producing this document so we can get it out there and get started."

General News on 07/08/2018

Print Headline: City board gives green light to public works department, adopts infrastructure plan

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