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Study rates DeKalb roads; repairs could start next summer

DeKALB – There’s no way to avoid it for the residents of DeKalb’s Eden’s Garden neighborhood.

The pockmarked, ribbed and patched pavement of Twombly Road is the only way to reach their subdivision. Resident Lorraine Maciorowski said she has been frustrated by the city’s response since she moved into the neighborhood nine years ago.

“My son talked to somebody [with the city], and when they just patched it, he called them back,” Maciorowski said. “I was taking the TransVAC for therapy, and the bus driver said, ‘I’ve been driving on this road for 25 years, and it’s always been like this.’ ”

Soon, disgruntled residents such as Maciorowski may get their wish. DeKalb city leaders have started reviewing the results of a citywide street assessment – the most thorough in the city’s history – in hopes of fixing streets most in need of repair in the coming year.

“A study like this has never been done before [in DeKalb],” Public Works Director T.J. Moore said. “The city did, on at least an annual basis, go out and rate streets, but in the past it was a visual surface analysis, whereas this is a significantly more scientific approach.”

In November 2012, city leaders approved a $48,000 contract with Infrastructure Management Services, a private firm, to catalog the condition of DeKalb’s approximately 128 miles of city streets, according to city documents. The study was funded using proceeds from tax increment financing and local gas taxes.

The contractor used a laser surface testing system to detect the degree of roughness, rutting and cracking in the surface of all city streets, and performed an additional test, called deflection testing, which analyzes the condition of the subsurface road layers, on the city’s streets that lie within TIF districts.

The findings were presented to City Council members at the Oct. 14 Committee of the Whole meeting.

“Engineering staff will take this and look at prioritizing the maintenance of the streets within the municipality, so from that standpoint the council was pleased to see staff taking a comprehensive look at the street conditions,” DeKalb Mayor John Rey said.

The study found that about 18 percent of DeKalb’s streets require minimal maintenance, 52 percent need routine maintenance and about 29 percent need high maintenance. For the worst 1 percent, the report recommended reconstruction.

Some of the more well-traveled streets that ranked lowest on the list included West Taylor Street from Annie Glidden Road to First Street, South Peace Road from Lincoln Highway to Interstate 88, Lucinda Avenue from Annie Glidden Road to Woodley Avenue and Twombly Road from Annie Glidden Road to Rosenow Way.

Streets located within DeKalb’s two TIF districts, which are a special mechanism local governments can use to spur development in blighted areas, received a more intensive examination because both districts are set to expire within the next 10 years. In the meantime, the property taxes that are diverted into the TIF fund in those areas can be used for capital improvements, including road repairs.

“We’re standing here at kind of a precipice,” Moore said. “Some of the TIFs within the next 10 years are going to [expire]. ... So at least for the TIFs, we needed to make sure that we were absolutely perfect in our priorities.”

In the coming months, the city’s engineering department will prioritize the roads that most require fixing, based upon the findings of the study, so that those improvements can be included in the next city budget.

“As much as we would like it to just be from the very worst to the very best, in the field, you can’t always do that,” Moore said. “In the field, you have to take things into account like, we can’t tear up four roads right next to each other that all connect.”

Moore said work could begin as soon as the summer.

City’s worst roads

A recent study found that these stretches of road in DeKalb were in the worst shape:

• West Taylor Street from Annie Glidden Road to First Street

• South Peace Road from Lincoln Highway to Interstate 88

• Lucinda Avenue from Annie Glidden to Woodley Avenue

• Twombly Road from Annie Glidden Road to Rosenow Way

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