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Evanston aldermen Monday night agreed to stop trying to allocate street repaving projects evenly across wards and instead focus on fixing first the streets that are in the worst condition wherever they happen to be in town.

But that still left them with the bigger issue of how to come up with the money to meet a staff-proposed goal of bringing all city streets up to at least “fair” condition by 2018.

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson said the city has been spending $3.2 million a year on paving projects. About 44 percent of that money coming from state motor fuel tax funds and the rest from the city’s capital improvement program.

Spending would need to more than double — to $7.4 million a year — to bring all roads considered to be in poor or very poor condition up to the “fair” standard by 2018, Robinson said, and in the meantime some roads that now are in fair shape would have fallen the lower categories because of continuing wear and tear.

In recent years staff has tried to schedule at least some repaving projects in each ward every year — although in some cases certain wards with especially severe problems have gotten up to twice as much work as the average.

“The idea of equally distributing repairs between wards is not panning out so well,” Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward said.

“We should look at this more wholistically, as an entire system.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, suggested starting with all the streets that now are in “very poor” condition.

And Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, agreed that “It’s all one big system, and the worst roads should be done first.”

Robinson said it would cost about $4 million to repair all the roads now in “very poor” condition, and Holmes said that could mean those could all be fixed within two years under existing funding levels.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said the city also needs to coordinate its street work with utility projects, so newly repaved streets aren’t torn up for utility work.

But Holmes and others said getting the worst streets fixed first should be the top priority after that.

Top: Road repair work underway on Davis Street (file photo).

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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4 Comments

  1. Evanston Streets and NU Construction

    Currently two huge NU construction projects are beating up Evanston streets–in particular the stretch of Sheridan Road between Chicago Avenue and Lincoln Street.

    The wear and tear comes from trucks transporting materials to and from two giant NU projects: a construction site for a new multilevel parking garage in front of the university's rec center (part of a planned mega sports complex) and another on the south end of campus that includes a new visitors' center that will also feature multi-level parking.

    One gets the feeling that Northwestern University's expansion is coming at the cost of Evanston's streets. The stretch of Sheridan I'm noting was brand new a few years ago. Please note its presently awful condition the next time you take a drive along the NU campus.

    As the university has yet to begin the actual "sports complex" phase of its project (and probably won't for a few years), you can expect road conditions will get that much worse. I'm wondering if anyone besides me has noticed this.

    1. Sheridan Road

      Notice that there was a plan over 2 or 3 years to repave Sheridan from the south limit to the north limit. The improvement stopped at Chicago Ave., so the trucks referred to are damaging a section already in poor condition. Could it be that some thought and coordination between the City and NU occurred? That they delayed the final section of the north end of Sheridan until the worst of the truck traffic was done?

  2. seems like this is more efficient too

    I think the idea of treating as a whole has to be more efficient as well.  Just a few weeks ago my street was repaved starting one block east of the block I live on.  Why?  That's the ward line.  So now there is one block of this street unpaved.  When will they get to that block?  Who knows, but it would have made sense to do it while all the crews, equipment, and materials were right there.  

  3. Nominations

    Can we nominate streets? I would like to to submit that Main Street, between Ridge Ave. & Hinman is pretty bad, especially considering it is designated as a bicycle route. Those potholes make me reluctant to drive on it, let alone bike.

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