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EGF residents sound off on $1.6 million in proposed street repairs

A public hearing for $1.6 million in proposed street repairs drew dozens of residents Tuesday to East Grand Forks City Hall, where some voiced concerns about the potential burden on their tax bills.

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A public hearing for $1.6 million in proposed street repairs drew dozens of residents Tuesday to East Grand Forks City Hall, where some voiced concerns about the potential burden on their tax bills.

The city does receive some state aid to pay for some of the road work, but the remaining $941,500 would be raised through special assessments.

The hearing marks the first step in getting the repair project off the ground, but like others before it seeking special assessments to pay for what state money won't cover, it didn't receive a warm welcome from residents.

Jack Gregoire, a representative of Sweet Clover Building located at DeMers Avenue and Fourth Street Northwest, expressed concern about sugar beet trucks traveling through town and wearing down streets.

Near the building, the city is planning mill and overlay work on Fourth Street, meaning crews would grind down the asphalt and resurface the street if the project is approved.

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"I can't see how the overlay will be holding up for even eight years," Gregoire said. "I just can't see how an overlay is going to handle that kind of traffic."

Other residents didn't think they should be charged for the repairs at all. Duane Driscoll told city officials the improvements planned near his home in the city's north end won't benefit him.

"I don't want to pay for a street I don't use," he said. "You can put up a fence and I'll stay off of it."

Repair plan

The street repairs are part of a three-phase maintenance plan implemented by the city's Public Works Department a few years ago.

Under the plan, about one-third of city streets are repaired each year, and this year's batch focuses on sections of streets located mostly in the city's northern end.

"These are intended to extend the life of that pavement," said Steve Emery, an engineer with Widseth Smith Nolting. "Typically, asphalt has a 50-year life cycle, and there are streets in the community that have exceeded that life cycle. That's due to the fact the city has been proactive in completing these maintence-type projects."

The street improvements planned for this year fall into three types known as sealcoat, mill and overlay, and reconstruction.

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Sealcoat, also known as asphalt sealer, is applied after minor resurfacing. Gregoire was not far off in his prediction of the next round of street improvements because sealcoat is generally reapplied every seven to 10 years. The city estimates it will cost $496,600 to complete sealcoat work for this set of improvements.

Mill and overlay work involves grinding down sections of roads along the curbline and repaving with new asphalt. The price tag for those repairs is estimated at $726,400 by city engineers.

Reconstruction, the most expensive of the three, involves tearing out portions of a street and replacing it with new concrete. For the reconstruction of a one-block portion of Rhinehart Drive's intersection with Sixth Street Southeast, estimates put the cost at $380,300.

Plans for a potential roundabout at the Rhinehart intersection could mean city leaders save that portion of the repairwork for a later project that could include a roundabout's construction.

Another reconstruction project, this one expected to be footed entirely by the city, would reconstruct the intersection at Central Avenue and Third Street Northeast at the projected cost of $160,000.

With the public hearing behind it, the city now must advertise for bids for contractors. Once it has received bids with cost estimates, a second public hearing will be held and the City Council will determine if it should move forward with the repairs.

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