The City of Geneva owns and operates 44 miles of streets throughout the neighborhoods and commercial districts of our community. Of course, the part we all see is just the icing on the cake. Beneath these miles of asphalt and concrete lie hundreds more miles of water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure. The City's most costly assets lie in these rights-of-way. You've no doubt driven down a street in Geneva and thought, "these potholes are terrible! When will the City fix this?" In fact, each year, the City engages in a process to determine which streets will be repaired, and how this will happen. Part of the process addresses the piece you drive on, but most lies far beneath the surface. The City looks at the following when we're considering street repairs:
- Pavement Condition: Over time settling occurs beneath the paving surfaces. This results in cracks in the asphalt and possibly potholes. We examine street surfaces to determine the extent and cause of surface problems.
- Condition of Subsurface Utilities: Beneath the surface on most roads, the City maintains a network of water, sewer, and stormwater pipes. We routinely examine these, and keep data on service complaints to monitor the condition of this infrastructure.
- Importance to the Transportation Network: Main roads are traveled more frequently, and are subject to faster wear. Additionally, roads are evaluated for importance to public safety, access to schools, and other factors related to moving through the City. Dependent upon these variables, the Department of Public Works begins to categorize the type of repair or replacement necessary.
Types of repairs include:
- Quick Fix/Patch: Streets with very isolated cracking or potholes are treated almost immediately with an asphalt repair. Ultimately, this is a temporary fix that can wear quickly.
- Resurfacing: If cracking becomes more expansive or potholes become frequent, the cost to apply a quick fix becomes too high and patching becomes ineffective. In cases where this occurs, but we know the underground utilities to be in good condition, the City will grind off the top one to two inches of asphalt and apply a new coat. No other repairs are made to curbs, sidewalks, utilities, etc. This fix can be effective for seven to ten years. The City evaluates streets annually and conducts resurfacing nearly every summer.
- Rehabilitation: If we know that there is some damage to utilities, a simple resurfacing may not make sense. In these cases, the City demolishes the surface and makes necessary utility repairs. If the budget supports it, and curbing is in bad condition, new curbs may be installed. The City constantly evaluates these conditions, and schedules rehabilitation when budgets will support this activity. These repairs are expected to last ten to fifteen years.
- Reconstruction: When we know all utilities to be in poor condition and surface conditions are bad, the City designs a new street project for the right-of-way. This consists of all new underground utilities, curbs, and sidewalks. The City constantly evaluates these conditions, and schedules reconstruction when budgets will support this activity and when health or safety issues exist.
New construction has a life expectancy of over thirty years. Some examples of why a street may, or may not be repaired in a given year include:
- Example 1: "Street A" has cracking and potholes on the surface, but failing underground utilities. In this budget cycle, only resurfacing funds are available. Another street, with healthier utilities would be selected for resurfacing, and design work would begin for reconstruction of "Street A" in a future budget cycle.
- Example 2: "Street B" is a heavily traveled corridor in the City, which provides access to the hospital and two schools. Its pavement condition is rough, with isolated cracking and recurring potholes. "Street C" is a neighborhood street with similar conditions. "Street B" would be selected for resurfacing, due to its higher importance to the Citywide transportation network.
Once the type of repair or replacement is determined, the Public Works Department works with the City Manager and City Council to get these projects into the budget pipeline. This is a multi-year process that could take some time between the day you recognize an issue and the time that the work gets completed. Thanks for your continued investment in Geneva, and for helping us make it a great place to live, work, visit, and do business!