The Hays City Commission on Thursday approved a $1.1 million street maintenance program for this year, with highlights including diamond grinding and possible restriping of Canterbury Drive from four lanes to three.
Diamond grinding is used to remove bumps on streets where concrete panels are warping. The affected portion of Canterbury will be from 13th to 27th, and city staff said reconfiguring the road to include two driving lanes and a center turning lane will slow traffic flow and allow the stoplight at 22nd to function as intended.
Commissioner Shaun Musil, however, repeatedly has expressed concern about changing the configuration of Canterbury near the 13th Street intersection due to the close proximity to Hays High School and young drivers.
“I know I’m the Lone Ranger on this,” Musil said. “I will absolutely vote for this street maintenance program because I think it’s a very aggressive street maintenance program. I don’t agree on Canterbury, but I do trust staff, and you guys believe it will work better.”
The city in recent years has made similar changes on 13th and Hall streets, reducing the number of lanes. Vice Mayor Henry Schwaller IV said in those cases, the changes have — for the most part — improved traffic flow.
“When we converted Hall Street — as you recall has three schools on it, both a high school, a grade school and a university at one end — we’ve actually seen less accidents,” Schwaller said, noting traffic does become congested during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up at O’Loughlin Elementary School. “Sometimes we have double parking on a three-lane street. I don’t think we’re going to have those problems (on Canterbury).”
A portion of 27th Street from Vine to Sherman also is slated for diamond grinding, but that street will be re-striped to its current four lanes. An alternate bid to grind 27th from Fort to Vine also is being recommended.
The city last attempted diamond grinding projects in 2016, but was forced to terminate the contract after the contractor hired was unable to perform the work to specifications. Staff since have specified minimum requirements to ensure bidding contractors can produce desired results, city project manager John Braun said, noting he is “very confident” the firm submitting this year’s low bid is well-qualified.
The overall street maintenance package for this year includes five contracts for seal coat, micro-surfacing, diamond grinding, curb and brick repair and polypatch. The repairs will be spread throughout town and affect residential and commercial areas.
Schwaller also questioned what the city’s plans are for moving forward and identifying future projects. He noted a section of 34th Street between Skyline and Willow is in poor condition and drawing concern.
The city twice has hired a mobile contractor that used computer technology to collect information about city streets and help rank their condition. While that provided useful information, there were factors the computer couldn’t account for, Braun said, noting he thinks the next five-year survey possibly could be done by city staff.
“We have this methodology now to where we are keeping the good streets good,” Braun said. “Instead of letting them get bad and then spending a lot of money to rebuild them, we’re keeping the good streets good.”
Braun also said next year’s street maintenance plan likely will include some larger repair projects, such as the one mentioned on 34th Street.
Mayor James Meier also requested a future discussion regarding the city’s use of salt and brine to prevent ice build-up on roads during winter months. Frequent use of the corrosive chemicals was cited as one of several factors that previously caused certain city streets to fail prematurely.
“If we have any forecast of anything at all happening in the next 48 hours, I see crews out putting out brine. On one hand, I’m thankful for that because it means our public works department is on top of things,” Meier said. “But on the other hand, we’re putting down a lot of brine and salt on streets that’s going to cause them to deteriorate even faster for what at times is a 10-hour convenience. I personally would like to have a discussion about what is appropriate that we should be doing.”
In other business:
• The commission heard an update regarding reconstruction of the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
• Commissioner Chris Dinkel was absent.