Flossmoor road report raises questions on maintaining streets

  Brumley Drive, just east of
  Bruce Avenue, is Flossmoor's
  only "failed" street, according
  to a pavement study released
  to the village board July 5.

  (Photo by Tom Houlihan/
  H-F Chronicle)
 

What’s the best way to keep Flossmoor’s streets in good shape?

Should the village follow a “worst first” strategy in which the most pothole-ridden, axle-bending streets get fixed right away, or concentrate on streets in better shape? That way, road crews could focus on preventive maintenance and work on more streets.

Village officials will be pondering that question – and possible street repair options – in the weeks to come following the release of a report listing the condition of every public and private thoroughfare in Flossmoor. Village board members got their first look at the report at the July 5 meeting.

Board members discussed the report’s results, which are likely to become part of the village’s strategic plan.

Ryan Wallace and Joseph Wilhelmsen, of Baxter & Woodman Consulting Engineers, developed a pavement rehabilitation strategy for each street based on its rating. 

Streets were evaluated on a scale of 1 to 10 using the PASER system for analyzing pavement conditions developed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Transportation Information Center.

According to the PASER scale, 10 is excellent and 1 is failed. Other outcomes are very good (8), good (6,7), fair (4, 5), poor (3) and very poor (2).

Brumley Drive, just east of Bruce Avenue, was the only street in Flossmoor with a failed rating. According to the report, the street has potholes, severe cracking and major rutting and raveling. No streets in Flossmoor received an excellent rating.

Rehabilitating all streets in 2017 would cost $20.1 million, the report states. 

Using the PASER system, 40.8 percent of the Flossmoor’s streets have a fair rating. Wallace and Wilhemsen stressed that the most work should be done on streets in fair condition. 

The total cost for a repair plan focusing on streets in fair condition would come to $12 million. Baxter & Woodman is suggesting preventative maintenance strategies such as crack sealing, patching and resurfacing to keep the streets in good condition for a longer period of time. 

However, Mayor Paul Braun disagreed, saying the most complaints from residents are about streets in the worst condition and those should be targeted first. 

Wallace explained it may not sound like the best decision from a political standpoint, but it is economically. 

“It’s very easy to determine ‘let’s fix the squeaky wheel’ and whoever gives the complaints that’s where we’ll spend our money,” he said. “But that’s not economically the best way to spend those dollars.”

Wallace and Wilhemsen explained it’s not easy to implement a plan to resurface streets that citizens see as being in "bad condition" because the overall cost will be more expensive in the long run.

Wallace said taking care of the worst streets first will result in spending more money. 

“The worst streets aren’t going to get any worse,” he said. “But the streets in fair condition will and that will hurt you economically in the long run.”

The representatives also recommended an annual budget to effectively maintain village streets. The village needs to budget $2.2 to $2.5 million per year to rehabilitate streets every 30 years, they said. Flossmoor should also seek federal funding for eligible roadways to help with costs, they added.  

Trustee James Mitros explained even though it’s a very expensive project, it’s definitely necessary.

“This was a very useful report and it’s something we have to plan for,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it.”

Public Works Director John Brunke said information released at the meeting will help get the conversation started about the pavement management project before the board approves a strategic plan. The village can move ahead with a road-maintenance plan once the board decides what will be most beneficial for Flossmoor’s streets in the years to come, he said.

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