City considers $2.9M paving plan

Published 10:29 am Thursday, August 20, 2015

Photo by Luke Horton A vehicle travels down the muddy, pot-hole filled Becker Street near W. Minnesota Street Wednesday. The street has been identified as "poor."

Photo by Luke Horton
A vehicle travels down the muddy, pot-hole filled Becker Street near W. Minnesota Street Wednesday. The street has been identified as “poor.”

Brookhaven aldermen may increase the scope — and cost — of a city-wide paving plan in order to fully fix roads identified as in need of repair.

Discussions about Brookhaven’s $2.25 million paving plan continued this week as the Board of Aldermen considered the possibility of increasing the plan’s cost to $2.9 million.

In the Board of Aldermen’s May 19 meeting, Mayor Joe Cox recommended the board approve a $2.25 million funding plan for paving that was presented at the previous meeting by Alderman Ward 6 David Phillips. The plan would increase the city’s paving budget in order to get major roads paved that individual wards could not with their allocation. The plan would then continue with the hiring of an engineering company to grade all streets according to federal regulations and then make suggestions based on need and recommend the most appropriate materials.

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“This not only funds paving in the six wards but allows the city to address the worst major thoroughfares that we all use to move about the city,” Cox said. “It would address not only ward paving but the common good for the community as well.”

After much discussion, the motion passed 5-2, with Alderman Ward 2 Terry Bates and Alderman Ward 3 Mary Wilson voting against the plan.

City Engineer Ryan Holmes, whose firm was hired for the paving project, this week presented the board with a comprehensive compilation of data gathered from riding the roads and scoring them on quality. Factored in are the roads that will have sewer and water work done beneath them, and the appropriate materials to be used for each part of a road per the engineer’s recommendation.

Holmes called the plan a “partial” paving plan, as the costs were based on sections of roads that would be fixed. He said the total cost of the paving according to what each alderman requested was about $2.3 million. Holmes went on to show the board what the plan would look like if they fixed the roads that they requested fully instead of partially, illustrating the firm’s recommendation. Holmes said this total came to about $2.9 million.

The board discussed trying to move toward the more complete paving plan, mentioning that it would be a stretch but wasn’t impossible when factoring in some shifting around of funds and some that had been in reserves from a previous year during which the city did not pave at all.

“What we said is we have $750,000 allocated [in the budget for paving this year], we’ve allocated a million for this upcoming year,” Phillips said. “If you allocate another million behind that that’d give you $2.75. If we chose a higher number that $2.75 would get us through these partial repairs. Now if we chose the higher [cost of full] repairs then we would have to borrow money going into someone else’s term so that’s the question we have to ask ourselves.

“I think everybody would like to do the full road paving to set a standard that would maybe be followed from here on from whoever’s here,” Phillips said. “We’d have to go into another year or two of that next term.”

In response to board questions, Holmes said that his recommendation would be to do the full paving — which could potentially save the board a great deal of money through the contracting work.

“Talking about the money-wise [issue] of going into another term but think about leaving the next board in a good shape with their streets too,” Ward 1 Alderman Randy Belcher said. “Because I can tell you right now Ward 1 is in terrible shape. You can leave them in a bind both ways; you can leave them in a bind with the money or you can leave them in a bind with the roads.”

Across Brookhaven, there were 17 roads rated “poor.”

Bates and Belcher voiced concerns about the number of streets to be worked on in each ward being more even. However, it was said that each alderman had $125,000 budgeted for their ward, had the choice to ride the roads with Holmes and was asked to turn in a “wish list” of streets they would want paved. Added to those lists are the recommendations from the engineers, street department and mayor including major thoroughfares.

“The reality of my ward is I only have about four streets that’s in the ward,” Alderman Ward 2 Bates said. “The others are shared. We do need to look at being fair with everybody if we’re going to do this $3 million worth of work and everybody’s going to have to pay for it. Lots of wards are sharing the streets but I’m saying just looking at single streets in your ward, that’s what your constituents are going to look at: what you got paved.”

Cox said what’s left to do now is hash it out amongst themselves. Holmes said that to fix every street that needed to be fixed it would cost the city $11 million, so these decisions will be difficult.

“When you need to do $11 million it’s hard to pick how you’re going to do three,” Holmes said. “For one thing I know everybody wants to do some in their ward and I want to be as equal as we can, but I want us to make sure we get the bad roads better or we haven’t done anything good you know. We need make sure we get all the bad roads in every ward better — and we want to do the thoroughfares in town because that benefits everybody.”

The Board of Aldermen will have another paving work session today at 4 p.m. and a budget work session after at 5 p.m.