Christy Bachmann from the City's Engineering department came to speak to LENA and provided some basic information about Complete Street which includes assessments as well as the study that was conducted as part of the Turner Avenue road reconstruction project. Public notices and meetings are typically limited to the affected property owners, however as this topic is of great interest to many neighbors, it was deemed that a focused section aimed to provide information is necessary. Notables from the meeting include:
How does a road get on the list for reconstruction?
Typically, a road gets on the list due to utility issues such as sanity/sewer backup or flooding, the overall pavement conditions, ponding/standing water, or icing issues. Utilities are always reviewed when a street is chosen and followed by public announcements for the residents impacted. Currently on the radar for evaluation is Maher. Buckeye Road is currently scheduled for 2018 when funds are received as it is a joint project with the county.
What is the cost to the residents?
Road reconstruction is very expensive, with a portion paid by taxes and the adjacent property owners. A generalized report, known as assessments is provided. It is roughly around $10K per property owner based upon several factors. Click here to access the report. Typical payback plan is 10 years however it is possible to extend to a 15-year payback plan if property owners and their Alder submit a request for extension. For low or limited income households, there is a deferred loan/program where payment is not made until such time when the property is sold and/or transferred. This option is available to property owners on Turner Avenue.
Have the costs gone up or down?
The overall costs have actually gone down. Property owners used to be responsible for half of the street. This is now up to 4 feet of pavement.
What are the ratings for utilities breakdown?
Cameras are used to evaluate breaks and assess issues. If the issues are minor, repair will be limited to the section affected. If larger sections are deemed in need of repairs, recommendation is then made to the engineering department for future repair and/or reconstruction.
The policy for sidewalks is rigid and does not consider the diversity and character of a neighborhood especially those with mature trees. Sidewalks change the character of the neighborhood.
Property owners on the affected streets will have the opportunity to express concerns. LENA is trying to organize another meeting for neighbors to learn more about the city's policy. If you look at Turner Avenue, the portion that was reconstructed, you will see that the sidewalks curve where every attempt is made to save the mature trees. If the street proposed does not fully meet the criteria for sidewalk, the department is open to not installing sidewalks provided that you have the support from your Alder.
Does sidewalk always go in on both side of the streets?
Yes; there are only a few exceptions.
Do you install sidewalks on dead end roads or cul-de-sacs?
No. The reason being that it is mostly a residential street. The criteria for sidewalk is such that the street is a major throughway to commercial district, on a bus-route, a primary or major walking route to schools, hospitals, etc.
Alder Ahrens commented that due to age and that some of the mature trees are nearing end of life, they typically are not able to sustain the damage to the roots from the reconstruction. Ash tree is another related factor. Property owners are able to keep the trees if they are not located in the city's right-away however the engineers take this into consideration when the street is surveyed and the layout is designed.
What is the plan or is there a plan for the rest of the neighborhood (ie the north of Buckeye Road)?
This is in the docket. Timing is unknown however here's a map of the reconstruction projects scheduled from today thru 2021; Transportation Improvement Plan 2016-2021.
Other information was also provided:
Map of the streets recommended for sidewalks to be installed (completed as part of the Turner Avenue project).
Special Assessment Loan and application; Special Assessment Loan.
In design projects are accessible online; Engineering Project.
Notes captured by LENA Secretary, Sara Strehlow