Duncan’s streets have been a sore point for many drivers in town and a point for complaints, but the city’s street department is working with what they have to get the job done. Buddy Hokit, Public Works Director, spoke at Rotary to give an update. Hokit has been the director of Public Works for about 10 months.
“I’m sure all of you are aware that somewhere on your street you live on there is a place that needs to be fixed,” he said. “Now I would say this — we can’t get them all tomorrow but we are beginning to make a little head way.”
Hokit said people need to report problems to the Street Department and they will check it out to make sure it is not a larger underlaying problem.
Hokit said a situation happened recently when they went to fill potholes the crew was also told to take the surface and re-do it. However, the job became larger when the underlying surface started to deteriorate requiring more time spent. This lead to complaints about the crew being in a low traffic area.
“What we are trying to do is patch and repair streets with our forces at this time, our forces have six people in the streets department,” he said. “It’s real hard to spread ourselves out.”
Getting more people is something which would help greatly.
“We are working in all four wards — we are trying to cover as much as we can,” Hokit said. “We’re in the process of putting on some contract people and they are going to start sawing and replacing concrete patches in some of the utility patches. We’ve also got some engineers in line to start putting some plans together so we can start doing bigger projects.”
Right now the crews are combating neglect more than anything, but now have several pieces of equipment to help get jobs done faster even with the limited crew.
Joining in September of last year, Hokit said he was “naive” on how long the process is for getting government projects going.
“I was used to calling someone, asking them to fix it and it get done,” he said. “We have to go through quite a process with the system — we have to have engineers to prepare plans, we have to bid them out and it takes time. For us to be working this summer on streets, we should have had plans done last year — well unfortunately they weren’t in place.”
This year they are putting plans together to get ahead.
Something Public Works is trying to do is moving water lines from under streets to 1. give better access for repairs and maintenance and 2. stop the creation of voids which then causes the road to sink into it.
“We are working on water lines … most of our streets have water lines under them,” he said. “I’ve been discussing with the DEQ about us relaying some of the lines and unfortunately they are a little narrow-minded about (it) — we can’t move a line over 10 foot without preparing a full set of plans and doing a hydrology report.”
The price to fix everything in 2016 when the PASER (Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating System) was done and rated the streets as good, fair, poor or fail, was roughly 73 million. However, as the price of materials continue to increase, the price would mostly be closer to 100 million.
“We are trying to get to the point where we can make these improvements on the budget we do have and hopefully where we could get to the point we can get some citizens help and maybe a bond issue where we can get bigger chunks of this done,” Hokit said. “These are some of the mountains we are trying to get over so you can see people working and doing some improvements on our streets.”