Mayor Chris Beutler today said the City will continue its aggressive approach to street and sidewalk repair and construction by focusing on planning, partnerships and innovation. In the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the City will invest over $9 million dollars in street repair and construction and more than $1 million on sidewalks. Beutler said the historic level of street and sidewalk work during the "Summer of Progress" would not be possible without the cooperation of the public.
"The willingness of Lincoln drivers to be patient, observe detours and slow down for road crews plays a very important part in the creation of new smooth streets in all parts of our city," Beutler said. "Those efforts enable our crews to work rapidly and safely to get streets back open. That is a testament to both the care and professionalism of our crews and also the consideration of Lincoln's drivers. We are all part of this process to improve our City."
Beutler said crews have used 2.5 million pounds of material to fill more than 51,000 potholes since the first of the year, and innovative new equipment and materials will enable crews to do even more. Spray patchers allow one person to do the work of four and free up workers for more preventive maintenance and repairs. Poly patchers allow crews to make repairs without disturbing the surrounding good pavement. Crews will soon start using a new asphalt mix for defects that do not warrant concrete pavement repairs. The material prevents water infiltration, preserves the life of the pavement, and results in fewer lane closures.
The City also used one-time funding to hire additional private contractors to eliminate a 20-year backlog of sidewalk repair requests. For this year, Public Works and Utilities Director Miki Esposito said private contractors will be used for work over large areas, and a new four-person rapid response team will assess and repair the most dangerous and non-ADA-compliant sidewalk problems right away.
Esposito said the City also uses private contractors for all of major street repair and construction projects, and those partnerships have been a key to improving the quality and quantity of the work. "They are able to hire and schedule their crews far out into the season, creating predictability, consistency and cost-savings," she said. "Our City crews are then free to do what they do best: focus on rapid deployment of routine and corrective maintenance."
The Public Works and Utilities Department will work with the City-County Planning Department on next year's update of the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). Esposito said the LRTP will guide the city's transportation system for the next 30 years, and community input will be essential as the plan is developed. She said planning efforts also include the pavement management system, which allows the department to make cost-effective decisions that increase the life of roadways.
Esposito said one of the department's goals it to make fewer repairs and more long-term improvements. "We are on a mission to deliver drivable streets, walkable sidewalks and efficient traffic systems," Esposito said. "We come to work each and every day knowing that our job is to get Lincoln's drivers, families, employees, students, trucks, bikes, buses, pedestrians and more where they need to go safely and conveniently."