Archive for Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dirt flies regarding city roads

December 21, 2006

Unpaved streets in Baldwin City raised some dirt at Monday's Baldwin City Council meeting.

There was an agenda item regarding unpaved roads in the city limits, but the subject was raised much earlier when rural Baldwin resident Ron Skaggs asked the council about Eisenhower Street which borders his property on the northeast edge of the city.

"Back when the property to the west and north of me sold, I contacted the city about my concerns about the increased traffic, the speed of the cars on the road and the tremendous amount of dust," said Skaggs, who built his home decades ago in what at the time was countryside well outside of the city limits. Since then, the Silver Ridge subdivision has been built to the west of him, as well as the Baker University soccer field.

"The simpilest thing to address was the speed," said Skaggs. "Amy (council President Amy Cleavinger) explained to me about the problem with the road being in the county and the city. I'd just like to know what the city plans to do about this. Put it on the agenda sometime later and I'll be back."

But, the discussion didn't stop there. Council Member Tony Brown mentioned what he thought was going to be done when the soccer field was built.

"I may be totally out of bounds on this, but it seems to me when the soccer field was put in that Baker was going to pave the road," said Brown. "That's when the traffic increased out there, even before the houses were built."

The biggest problem with the road is the southbound lane is city right-of-way, while the northbound lane is Douglas County right-of-way. Currently, the Palmyra Township maintains the gravel road. It isn't the only road in Baldwin where the city and county share ownership.

"There are a couple of places in town where we've got that problem," said City Administrator Jeff Dingman.

Those are Eagle Lake Drive, which goes east to north First Street; north First Street to State Lake Road and then north to the city limits; north 400 Road on north Sixth Street to the city limits; and First Street from Ames Street to U.S. Highway 56.

The splits cause problems with maintenance and enforcement of traffic laws. Police Chief Mike McKenna said it causes problems for his officers in both enforcing speed limits and when accidents occur. Public Works Director Bill Winegar said bringing the roads completely within the city means one thing.

"If we annex the whole road, we take responsibility," said Winegar.

As for the north Eisenhower Road situation, safety concerns were also raised regarding children walking from Silver Ridge to school. Mayor Gary Walbridge thanked those in attendance for expressing concerns and said the matter would be looked into.

"The information you've given us gives us more work to do," said Walbridge.

Later in the meeting, the roads completely within the city limits that are unpaved were addressed. At the last meeting, Cleavinger brought up complaints she'd received about three or four streets that were unpaved.

Winegar compiled a list of the streets and what it would cost to pave them. He also said that city policy has always been to charge homeowners for the cost of asphalt for streets in front of their houses.

"If you wanted your road paved, you paid for it and we did it," he said. "It's been something the city has never forced."

Winegar's list was more than four, with a total of 11 such streets: Kibbee Street from Eisenhower to Wesley; Baker Street, from Second Street to the ditch and 11th Street; Chapel Street from 11th; Elm Street, from 12th Street; Newton Street, from Eighth to Ninth; South Street, from Lawrence Street and from Miami Street; Summit Street, from College Street to South Street; Miami Street, from College to Ottawa Street; and 14th Street, from High Street. Most of the unpaved streets are a block long, ranging from 200 feet to 550 feet.

"I didn't realize there were so many," said Cleavinger.

Winegar said asphalt costs to do all the streets would be roughly $83,000. That does not include all of the other work the city would have to do to the streets before paving. He said it would take three or four years to pave them all.

"I would like to see if we could develop a three or four year plan for these streets," said Brown, adding that he'd also like to see ballpark figures for what it would cost to pave Eisenhower Street, which had been brought up by Skaggs.

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