New bonds could help Oak Park stay on top of its alley and street reconstruction schedule, officials from the Public Works Department recently told the village’s Finance Committee.
The village currently spends about $1 million annually on alley reconstruction and around $2.7 million on repaving its streets, a budget that translates into an average of 12 alley rehabs annually, as well as the maintenance of around 240 “lane miles” of road in Oak Park.
With the help of additional funding, the Public Works Department completed work on 30 alley segments last year. The village has around 600 alleyways, with expected life cycles of between 40 to 50 years per rehab. Costs run from $50,000 to $90,000 per alley.
Village engineers use vehicles equipped with lasers to survey the condition of pavement and concrete surfaces in the village, then use a rating-points system to determine which alleys and streets are in most dire need of repair. Such techniques include pavement patching, crack filling and micro-surfacing.
Department research shows that the faster they get to making those improvements, the more money the village will save in the long run, Public Works Director John Wielebnicki told the Village Board of Trustees at a recent meeting held to review the department needs as the village prepares its 2015 budget recommendations.
“We can invest little dollars at the earlier part of the life style and it will improve the pavement’s condition,” said Wielebnicki at the meeting, which took place on July 14. “As we wait longer and longer through the pavement’s life cycle, you’ll find that the cost to replace that street is significantly more.”
According to the department’s compiled data, the surface conditions seen in around 250 alleyways in the village are just above or below the ratings mark at which residents normally start to complain. The majority of the remaining alleyways are rated as being in a condition that does not require immediate reconstruction.
The village’s streetscapes are in an equally adequate state; in 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the village a “C” in its roadway quality report card, coming out slightly above the state’s “D+” average.
“The challenge is to maintain this level and keep it there,” a village summary report read.
That achievement could be met through the assistance of an additional $10 million in bond proceedings that would go to the alley and street projects over the next five years, according to Acting Village Engineer Bill McKenna.
“This level of funding would allow us to allow us to hit most of the poor alleys in the immediate future,” McKenna told the board.
Though an approval for such a funding piece is still deep in the process, trustees seemed open to the idea of ramping up financing for the projects.
“This is what village government is all about,” said Trustee Glenn Brewer.
McKenna noted that while getting a head start of fixing some of these alleys was a step in the right direction, the village would still have to stagger its roadway and alley reconstruction projects as a matter of practicality.
“If we do too many, they’ll all start to deteriorate at the same time,” he said. “We don’t want to overburden the next generation.”
The village is expected to present its draft budget for next year by the end of September.