Last week ushered in the beginning of the end of several road reconstruction projects in the city. Sometimes these projects seem to linger with weeks of raised manhole structures making drivers expert obstacle avoiders in those neighborhoods undergoing work. It also includes a few residents complaining of bottoming-out from the extra high driveway lips that remained in place until the final layer of blacktop evened things out. But, in the end, it is all worth it. Keeping a consistent stream of road overlay projects each year keeps the long-term needs for improvements more manageable. Deferred maintenance leads to what becomes an overwhelming list of needs – and makes it even more difficult to prioritize based on the limited budget for these projects. 

The steamroller doing its thing over the final layer of blacktop.

The steamroller doing its thing over the final layer of blacktop.

In Ward 6, we saw several roads get the full work-over, including a long-sought project on Mountainview Drive. This is one I had advocated for beginning two years ago, and I was pleased to see it make the final list this construction season. 

Over the past four years, I am happy to say that Ward 6 has had more than its fair share of improvements. In total more than two dozen streets, portions of roads, intersections, walkways, and pedestrian bridges have been replaced, reconstructed or overlayed. Some of those were on the so-called “list” for improvements, others came after strong advocacy – not only from the ward councilor – but from residents. You can get more accomplished for your neighborhood when you make your voice heard, alongside the those public officials advocating for you.

One of the things that door-to-door provides is a firsthand, personal account of the conditions of the roads. It helps prioritize where work needs to be done. In fact, tonight, I became more convinced about the next streets that need to make the list for next construction season. It reminds me of four years ago, when my wife and I walked from door-to-door on Meadowridge Drive. I was shocked at the terrible condition of the road in the neighborhood. There were literally craters so large that you could lose a small child in them (well, perhaps that’s exaggerating it a little – but not much). The streets there had never been built to proper city specifications, but unfortunately the city had accepted it a long time ago. It was our responsibility. The idea of redoing that neighborhood was not well-received initially. It wasn’t on the “list” and, to do it right, I was going to take a major reconstruction. However, to the credit of the residents there, they were willing to work with me to get this done. I convinced the mayor at the time to come to a neighborhood meeting at one of the constituent’s home there. The place was absolutely packed, and there was a very lively discussion that ranged from the condition of the road, the future of the city, school choice and more. It was a frank discussion that led to a better understanding of the issues on all sides. In the end, the city made the investment and in the following spring, that neighborhood saw the proper road construction that it should have received when the development was first accepted by the city in the 1980s. 

Finally, there was another meeting tonight at city hall. I would like to thank my fellow councilor Chris Connell again for acting quickly to schedule a DPW Committee meeting to hear further information on the Safe Routes to School project near Conte Community School. As chair of that committee, he accommodated for the challenges presented to me as the ward 6 councilor representing that section of the neighborhood: 1. I wanted to give the residents and those with properties being impacted by the temporary easements an opportunity to fully understand the project and make their voices heard, and 2. To ensure the council could approve the project before the deadline for the bidding process (thus, making sure we do not lose the dollars for the project). Councilor Connell made it happen, and I appreciate that.

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