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Blacktop blunder to be tackled by task force

A new citizen-led committee will soon begin collecting street crumbs.

Woodbury City Council appointed members of the street rehabilitation task force to help come up with a new plan to fix the city’s streets and tackle a widespread problem caused by faulty blacktop mixes used in the 1990s.

The task force is comprised of nine members including Council Member Christopher Burns, who leads the group as chairman.

The council previously discussed the premature deterioration of the city’s roadways and the financial implications last fall and decided to seek input from a task force.

The task force will begin meeting this month and present an action plan later this year.

Though it is not clear whether the assessment policy will change as a result of the new plan, it is a possibility.

“A big part of it is always, ‘How are we going to pay for those repairs,’” said Nancy Remakel, a member of the task force and former Planning Commission chairwoman and council member. “I’m sure that everything will be up for investigation and review.”

According to a council memo, the city has received an increasingly high volume of calls regarding crumbling streets with the worst failures being noticed in the 2012-13 snow season.

“This trend is specifically being seen on roadways built 10 to 25 years ago,” the memo states. “Similar roadway failures are being experienced throughout the state, although Woodbury’s premature failures may be more noticeable because of the high number of roads constructed during the years stated.”

Roads expected to last 30 years are only lasting half as long, the memo said.

“We’ll have to just re-evaluate where we’re at because these roads are breaking down faster than expected,” said Remakel, who formerly served on another street rehabilitation task force in the early 1990s.

Woodbury Public Works Director Klayton Eckles said the current policy requires the city to pay a percentage of the cost to rebuild the roads and assess the rest to taxpayers.

The problem poses a funding challenge for the city, which initially budgeted $5 million for upcoming road projects that have swelled to $6 million, Eckles said.

“Maybe there is going to be a need to change the assessment policy, the assessment rates or, the other side of it is, what level of maintenance should be provided,” he said.

The engineering staff has been working with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and neighboring communities to research the problem and come up with solutions.

The task force will continue the in-depth research before developing recommendations in the action plan later this year.

“It’s an issue that nobody planned for but we certainly need to deal with it,” Remakel said. “It affects our cars as we drive over it, it affects the value of our property. Having quality roads in the city is very important.”

Other members of the task force are: Daniel Hottinger, Frederick Dempsey-Hess, Bill Betten, Brett Anderson, James Curnow, Caleb Brunz and Rusty Nereng.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.