Flossmoor residents could see more than $5 million in street rehabilitation across the village in 2022, but trustees also are taking a broader look at how to approach road work.
John Brunke, the village’s public works director, presented a plan to the board on Monday, Dec. 6, that would see Flossmoor rehabilitate approximately 9.1 miles of streets, or 21.7% of roads under its jurisdiction. That work, presented for discussion only, would be covered by $5.15 million in proceeds from a bond sale approved in April.
But Trustee Rosalind Mustafa questioned where that would leave the village, with the project set to address 28.1% of streets with a Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating between 3 (or poor) and 5 (fair).
“That still seems like a lot of 3-5 or even lower than 3 [rated] streets that are remaining,” Mustafa said.
Brunke said staff knew going into this that the village needs a total of roughly $15 million in total street repair. Depending on how the bids come in, Flossmoor might be able to get more done than expected with the money on hand. But the storm water issues are being handled first with the bond proceeds, and the remaining money was never designed to cover the entirety of road repairs, Brunke said.
“It’s going to give us more of a jump-start but it’s not going to get all the work that’s needed done, unfortunately,” he said.
The approach is to get the worst streets done first. The plan also includes building the village’s Motor Fuel Tax fund during this time and addressing more roads through the village’s annual street resurfacing program. Brunke’s proposal would push the village’s annual street resurfacing program for fiscal year 2023 to FY 2024 because of the large scale of the rehabilitation project, which he suggested could help the village build a MFT fund balance for another season.
But that plan left some board members torn about the strategy moving forward, trying to strike a balance between sinking everything into roads in greater disrepair and maintaining roads in better condition to avoid greater expenses down the road.
Trustee Brian Driscoll said he was hopeful the village could get on the higher end, or $8 million to $10 million worth of roadwork, done with the bond proceeds.
“I’m concerned,” he said. “We worked hard to get the referendum, get the money.”
Brunke said the Flossmoor Road Viaduct work alone is expected to cost $5.7 million, though there is a hope for more grants that would allow some of that money to shift to roadwork. But Driscoll said he is worried that as MFT money gets smaller, $300,000 annually is only going to fill potholes and the village will be left where it was roughly five years ago, facing many roads still in disrepair and without the funds to address them. He said he feels like the village is “going down the path of the same mistakes we made before.”
“I just don’t know that this is the comprehensive plan we were looking for — to take all of our money at once, spend it and you’re only going to get one-fifth of the roads taken care of,” he said. “I’d like a more long-term comprehensive plan before we spend all our money for one-fifth of the roads next year and that’s it.”
But Brunke said, “The only other choice we have is sit and let our roads get worse. There’s nothing else we can do other than this. We have to rehab. If we don’t, they’re going to get worse to a failing condition, and then we’re at a reconstruction level.”
Trustee James Mitros said he is with Driscoll in that the village needs a comprehensive plan — and one that includes a maintenance strategy. But Mitros also said he backed Brunke’s plan, because Flossmoor cannot simply put the money in the bank in hopes that things get better down the road. The tough decisions ultimately come down to limitations.
“It’s a money problem,” Mitros said. “We don’t have enough of it, and we have too many things to spend it on. … We’re losing the battle here.”
Mayor Michelle Nelson suggested considering crack sealing as a different approach to maintaining roads and allow the village more time to catch up. She asked to see an alternate plan that includes it. Salmon Danmole, of Milhouse Engineering, said crack sealing can work on roads with higher ratings. Mitros said he would like to see that incorporated into the village’s strategy at some point, noting other municipalities have done it with some success.
“What we’re doing we know we can’t continue on to do,” Mitros said. “We have to come up with some other solutions.”
But Brunke said shifting money could let some poorly rated roads slip into further disrepair, and could turn $300,000-a-mile rehabilitation into $1 million-a-mile reconstruction.
Trustee Gary Daggett said he would like to see estimated cost differences based on how much extra time crack sealing buys good roads and what the additional costs would be if poorly rated roads slipped into further disrepair to know what would be the most fiscally sound move for Flossmoor.
“We might be throwing good money after bad,” he said.
Village Manager Bridget Wachtel added that the village could use the bond money for the rehabilitation that is needed and consider using the accumulation of MFT funds for a crack sealing program.
“I think that’s a great idea,” Mitros said. “I would like to see that.”
Milhouse Engineering this summer worked with Engineering & Research International Inc. to update Flossmoor’s PASER database to help select which streets should be included in the village’s rehabilitation program, according to Brunke.
Staff originally proposed splitting the work over two construction seasons, but Brunke said because of the work needed to update the PASER database they decided instead it would be better to complete both phases during the next construction season. The hope is to open bids on the project in January or February, he said.
A full list of the streets being recommended for the project can be found on Page 90 of the packet from the board meeting.
Brumley Drive, slated for reconstruction between Bruce and Sterling avenues, is to be designed and constructed separately from the Street Rehabilitation Program because of the complexity of that project, according to Brunke. It necessitates storm sewer installation as well as potential utility relocations and excavation, he said. It is expected to cost $300,000.