The Duncan Banner

May 6, 2013

Cracked concrete is only the surface of a deeper problem

By Mike Smith
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Your average guy who knows nothing about road construction would look at a span of Alice Drive in Duncan and only see a street in bad shape.

Scott Vaughn sees every crack in the concrete, the grass growing in the joints, the chipped parts of the pavement, the crumbling curbs – and he can tell you what’s going on with each of them.

More importantly, Duncan’s director of public works can tell you what needs to be done or could be done to fix them within a limited budget.

“You could make a case, quite frankly, for simply routing and sealing that crack, because there’s no deflection, no defamation, no faulting,” Vaughn explained, pointing to one small section of street.

Because that concrete panel was pretty stable, he said, it’s probably worth repairing and saving.

“The panel to the left has so many random cracks, the plan of attack will most likely be full removal and replacement of that panel,” he said.

That means digging it up and pouring all-new concrete six inches deep.

That’s more than most folks want or care to know, but those nitty-gritty details would come into play in a big way if voters approve a $9 million bond for street improvements on Tuesday, May 14.

About one-fourth of the city’s 1,100 sections of streets would be repaired or renovated over a three-year period if the bond is approved. Work likely would begin sometime after Jan. 1, 2014 and continue over the next three years.

The city plans to set aside some of its normal appropriations for streets over that time so another $2 million of work could be done in a fourth year.

Most work would involve patching and sealing concrete streets and resurfacing asphalt ones so they are in good condition and can stay that way for a decade or more with only routine maintenance.

Most improvements are slated for “collector streets” – those that feed into busier arterial streets such as Elder, Elk, 10th and Main. But some lengthy stretches of busier streets such as Beech, Country Club and Bois d’Arc would be improved.

For example, much of Bois d’Arc from Fifth Street to just east of Ridley Road would be resurfaced. Elder Avenue from U.S. Highway 81 east to 10th Street also would be resurfaced.

Drivers might not notice a huge difference after repairs on some sections, Vaughn said, but serious problems will have been addressed before they worsen and cost more to fix.  

Drivers will notice a big difference on many of the asphalt streets, such as Fir Avenue from streets E through K in the far east-central part of town. The street is a mine field of potholes and would get a new layer of asphalt.

“It will be nice and smooth and it should last a long time without a lot of work,” Vaughn said.

Of all 255 sections to be worked on, only six would be completely reconstructed. One of those, E Street from Ash to Main, needs major drainage work and at $247,000 is the costliest section on the to-do list.

Some repairs, but not all, will alleviate drainage problems that result in large puddles when it rains.

Much of the concrete work would be done during the spring, fall and winter, with a lot of asphalt resurfacing done in the summers. Some blocks probably could be completed in a week’s time, some will take longer.