In the midst of several street-improvement projects currently being undertaken in Fairbury, the City Council will rely upon the findings of a street study to guide them with future street improvements.
City Manager Collin Bielser explained that this study is important to the City of Fairbury to help identify where there are problems and how to mitigate them.
“In the spring, we contracted with Bowers Civil Engineering Services to complete a street study for us to help us plan for the future to allocate dollars efficiently,” said Bielser. “Norm Bowers (who conducted the study) put a lot of work into this.”
Bowers began his presentation by explaining that the study is comprehensive, providing the greatest detail possible to help with the roads. He noted that it is important for the city to focus on the root of the issue causing the Fairbury’s streets to deteriorate.
“Tonight’s theme, and you all have heard this, is when you’re up to your neck in alligators, it’s hard to remember your original intention was to drain the swamp,” Bowers said. “That’s really important on streets, because once we get alligator cracks, the street’s basically failed and we have to start over again. What we’re going to do is try to keep the streets from getting those alligator cracks.”
Routine maintenance, Bowers explained, is important to prevent the condition of the streets from worsening. The City of Fairbury has over 40 miles of streets, 50,000 feet of which are gravel. The brick streets in the city were put in place in the 1930s and from that time, the materials used to build the streets expanded to include concrete and asphalt.
Bowers explained that roughly 20 percent of the asphalt streets were rated in good condition, though he noted that many people would not classify them as good quality because they are rough roads. To remedy these conditions, Bowers recommended that the city complete a mill and overlay of the streets.
The brick streets, Bowers explained, are in great condition, especially considering how old they are. He estimated that 67 percent of the brick streets were in good condition.
“You guys have the best brick streets I’ve ever seen,” said Bowers. “This obviously shows a lot of pride in your brick streets. It pays to keep it up!”
The concrete streets in Fairbury, Bowers explained, received mostly good and fair ratings. He believes that it is important to maintain those streets to prevent them from cracking.
“Almost every concrete street you have out there, you have a random crack down the center line of the lane,” Bowers said. “Those are still fairly good streets; they’re still fairly smooth. What ends up happening is you get another crack. Then you start getting more deflection and that kind of stuff. And then you start getting those edges where trucks start hitting those corners and cracking it more. The concrete streets do have some issues.”
The condition of the curbs in the city is strong, though Bowers, once again, recommends routine maintenance to prevent the condition from worsening. He recommended that the city create an annual plan to complete maintenance on the city’s streets. He also believes that implementing an armor coat on the asphalt to improve the quality of those streets.
“The reason I think you need an annual plan is to have a record of what’s been done,” said Bowers. “You want a plan that’s basically a list of things that you need to do, then you check them off as you do them. I think it’s important to keep track of that because you guys have spent a lot of money on brick. It’d be nice to know how much money is being spent on the different street types. I think it’s fairly crucial, or you’re going to lose those streets.”
The city council will determine a plan to continue maintaining the streets. Some of the projects that are currently under way include a section of Eighth Street from the railroad tracks to C Street, and a Sixth Street from C Street to D Street.