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Houghton council mulls deteriorating roads

March 10, 2011
By GARRETT NEESE, gneese@mininggazette.com

HOUGHTON - Action needs to be taken to fix Houghton's deteriorating roads, City Manager Scott MacInnes said at Wednesday's City Council meeting.

A Pavement Enterprise Pavement Management group at Michigan Technological University evaluated the condition of the city's roads as part of its Complete Streets project last fall.

The team used the Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating (PASER) system, which ranks roads on a scale of 1 (failed, needs total reconstruction) to 10 (new pavement).

Conditions have steadily declined over the past six years. Houghton's PASER summary for 2004 showed 24.6 miles with scores between 6 and 10, and only 5.05 miles below that.

By 2010, those numbers had nearly flipped. Only 7.09 miles were evaluated at 6 to 10; 27.96 miles scored lower.

"We can't ignore this any longer," City Manager Scott MacInnes said. "We've got to get out there and get these roads back into shape."

The city has spent about $89,500 on the roadwork per year over the past five years, according to figures Director of Public Works Mark Zenner provided the Tech team. The report stated Houghton would not have any money for extensive road maintenance for the next three years. A partial solution mentioned is to include rebuilding streets as part of water and sewer projects, after which the city would repave those roads.

Figures cited in the report show fixes getting more expensive the more urgent they become: $4,000 per lane mile for crack-seal and $300,000 for reconstruction.

"If you let it go, it's going to cost us in the long run," Zenner said.

The council will take up roads again during the upcoming budget sessions.

In other action, the council:

heard a report from MacInnes on the work to upgrade the city's master plan, which was last fully updated in the 1970s. The city will do much of the work in-house, such as a summary of the existing conditions.

MacInnes said there would be community involvement, possibly in the form of an open house charrette, as well as discussions with neighboring municipalities.

"I think it's crucial that we have a dialogue with Portage Township, find out what their plans are," he said.

discussed a letter from Dennis and Illa Garver complaining about the amount of trash found under the parking deck. The council discussed potential remedies to the problem, including enforcement; Chief John Donnelly said littering is punishable by up to a $500 fine.

heard a public works report from Zenner. There have been a series of sewer freezes. The Sharon Avenue trail will be opened up by Shopko. There is a week or two left before the waterfront trail will be opened for walkers.

The department has a fuel supply of a couple of months, which Zenner said will hopefully hold them through the current jump in prices.

heard an update from Donnelly. The department will be able to trade in older weapons to the federal government. Officers will also attend workshops on how to interview victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

discussed the city's plan to make city council packets accessible via computer network for members.

"I think we could really drastically cut down on paper," said Councilman Mike Needham.

approved a transit resolution governing the terms and resolutions for projection authorizations between fiscal years 2007 and 2011.

 
 

 

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