Public Works Updates on Street Repairs
A primary concern for many Marshfield citizens is streets. While managing environmental complications (frequent freeze/thaw conditions and poor soil drainage) and budget limitations (cost increases and complicated funding), the City of Marshfield Public Works Department continues to make slow, yet steady progress with City streets.
“We have 142 miles of streets in the city, and assuming they have between a 25-year and 40-year lifespan, we typically aim to keep working on about 4 + or – miles/year, and the goal is to keep up with that pace,” said City Engineer Tom Turchi. “We don’t want to fall behind, because the further behind you become the more difficult it is to catch up. Then there is the cost increases by delaying projects, as we all know that costs continue to rise.”
(What’s slag sealing? How is an overlay different from reconstruction? Learn what the different repairs mean, here.)
Projects Taking Place in 2018
Find the full map of repairs here. Street construction projects slated for 2018 include Central Avenue (from Arnold to Harrison) and 29th Street (from Hume Avenue to Veterans Parkway). Reconstruction will take place on 17th Street (Maple Avenue to Peach Ave), with construction scheduled for 2020, per the current Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).
Many residents have asked why the Central Avenue and 29th Street repairs have taken so long, and the reason comes down to funding. By waiting, the City saved millions in repair costs.
“In both of these, there is state funding involved,” Turchi explained. “It’s a cost share between the State and the City, where a good portion of the funding comes from state and federal tax dollars.”
On 29th Street, the project will include the addition of a sidewalk on the north side, providing another pedestrian route from Washington to the Veterans Parkway recreation trail.
Other projects slated for 2018 include overlays, mill-in-place, and sanitary sewer reconstructions.
An overlay will be installed on Upham Street from Chestnut Avenue to Oak Avenue, and a right turn lane will be installed on Fig Avenue, southbound at Upham Street, to help traffic flow at Grant Elementary School during pickup and dropoff.
Marshfield’s most dangerous intersection (based on traffic crash reports) is also getting a facelift, with new traffic signals and new left turn lanes being installed on Central Avenue at Doege.
Hume Avenue will have sanitary sewer and storm sewer work done during this construction season. It will also involve a street reconstruction and opening on Hume Avenue off of Becker Street, and also on Hume to the north of McMillan, creating an additional area for development.
Sanitary sewer reconstruction will also take place on Blodgett Street at Peach Avenue, and storm sewer maintenance will take place on McMillan.
Overlay projects include:
- Blodgett Street (Peach Avenue to Willow Avenue) – will replace water main and sanitary sewer
- Columbus Avenue (5th Street to Adler Road) – will include reconstruction of water and gas
- Upham Street (Oak Avenue to Chestnut Avenue)
Streets scheduled for mill-in-place with ditching include:
- Auburn Avenue (Blodgett Street to Fillmore Street)
- Balboa Avenue (17th Street to cul-de-sac)
- Colonial Street (Adams Avenue to North Hills Avenue)
- Palmetto Avenue (Depot Street to Blodgett Street)
- Ridge Road (Schmidt Avenue to cul-de-sac)
- Wallonnie Drive
- 18th Street (Pecan Parkway to Washington Avenue)
- 21st Street (Maple Avenue to Vine Avenue)
How does a street get on the repair list?
Streets are rated every two years on a 1-10 scale, and reported to the Department of Transportation. (Read more – click here) If a street is rated a “4” or less, the City starts making plans for that street (if it hasn’t already).
Data is collected and input into GIS software, allowing staff to more easily determine the status of any given street and the urgency of any needed repairs. In addition, through involvement in various state and national organizations, department staff are continually exploring external funding opportunities that might change the schedule for repairs.
Other contributing factors to where a particular street is on the list include the condition of the sanitary sewer main, water main, and other environmental factors.
“We can plan five years out, but that list can change based on political reasons (such as state funding), the condition of underground utilities, continued deterioration,” explained Turchi. “It’s a balancing act in trying to make sure that we balance the work done throughout the city.”
“We try to maintain a balance the budget over five years, take the projects and bid them out. In some instances, the bids come in less. Then we can add streets. Then we have to adjust. It’s a balancing act in all instances and there are a lot of factors out there that can raise and lower the bids we receive. It varies from project to project. Keeping track of where our prices are as compared to previous bids. We’ve had years where a project comes in 20 or 30% over. In a case such as this we rebid the project the next spring to get more favorable bid prices.”
In addition to their own planning, the City works with other entities, such as Marshfield School District and Marshfield Utilities, to more efficiently plan projects.
“We do this so we know about the projects that they are proposing,” said Turchi, referencing the school district’s recent stadium project proposal. “We’ve been working with their consultant and they actually hired a subconsultant to do a traffic-impact analysis. Even though it’s not something where we’re meeting on a regular basis, we do meet with maintenance personnel to understand where they are going in the future so we can coordinate with their work.
Marshfield Not Alone
Marshfield is not alone in its issues, with infrastructure challenges being a nationwide concern. Add to that a four-season climate and clay-based soil with a high moisture content, and the challenges become greater.
This time of year especially, manholes become an issue because the soil around the manhole cover is freezing and lifting, but the manhole itself is below the frost grade. On some streets, the casting for the manhole is set into the concrete surface, but using concrete on all streets is not cost-effective.
Additionally, there are timing-related challenges, as many streets were paved at the same time and are now reaching their lifespan.
“There was a period of time in the mid-80’s where we got a lot of funding for paving and did a lot at that time,” said Turchi. “Those streets are now approaching some of their life spans. In some instances, when they originally paved the street, they did not consider utilities under that street, so they didn’t fix the sanitary sewer or water main. Those streets are causing problems.”
Fixing a street is not cheap, and complete reconstruction of a street is significantly expensive. City Engineering actively seeks ways to improve the lifespan of Marshfield streets.
“One of the things we’ve seen on some of our streets is joints deteriorating, so we’ve been working with the federal highway administration to see what can we do to prevent it,” said Turchi. “What we have found is that if we can keep our joints filled with sealer, that extends the life of the streets by making sure we can keep the salts and other materials out of those joints and keep them moving freely.”
City Welcomes Questions
If your street is involved in any of the 2018 projects, you should have received a letter from the City of Marshfield.
“Before a project starts, I’ll have several public informational meetings,” said Turchi. “We are helping to make residents aware of any work that may be done. It’s also an opportunity for us because we want to know if there are concerns that we should take into consideration when we do the designs. After the designs are finalized and we start calculating assessments, we ask them to come in for another public informational meeting.”
PowerPoints that outline the type of work being done specific to each project are available online for those interested in a specific project.
The City offers free televising of sanitary sewer during certain projects, allowing residents to repair their sanitary sewer while the street is open. The City then pays for the street repair portion (for which the resident would normally be responsible).
“In fact, if they have an old vitrified sanitary sewer lateral, and they replace it from the main to the house, we will pay them $500 bonus just to do that,” he said.
The Street Division puts hang tags on residential doorways right before construction begins as another means to alert residents on the mill-in-place and overlay street repairs.
“We’re here to listen and we can explain to you where your street is rated and why,” said Turchi.