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Monday, July 17th, 2006

Fix on the way for alleys

By Timothy Cox
Celina officials are moving forward with a plan - including a different construction technique - to rebuild most of the alleys in the southwest portion of the city.
About $70,000 is available in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for the work, although city officials are hoping to scrape up another $10,000 to $15,000 so a couple of additional alleys can be rebuilt.
Kent Bryan, the city's development consultant, said city officials have decided to use an alternative construction technique that will help keep costs down. The process involves grinding up the existing alley surfaces and mixing that material with a calcium-based material to form a new base. New asphalt would then be poured over the reconstituted base.
"It should definitely save us some money," Bryan said, because the city won't have to pay for new aggregate to put down as a base for the alleys.
Because the city's alleys have not been dug out and replaced, they typically include layers of varying materials. When potholes form, they cannot be patched because the patch material does not adhere to multi-layered alleys, Bryan said.
When the material is ground up and mixed together, though, it forms a new aggregate that can be used as a base. The equipment to do the job has been around for years, but governments only recently started using the process due to rising asphalt and concrete prices, Bryan said.
A couple of city officials recently visited Springfield where the technique is being used and were satisfied with what they saw and what they were told by officials in that city, Bryan said.
If the technique proves successful, city officials might look to use it on some of the city's streets, especially those where the asphalt has built up through the years with repaving over old surfaces, Bryan said.
The technique could be especially useful on streets that need resurfaced but where the curbs and gutters remain in good shape, he said.
City officials have been criticized by some residents in recent months over the plan to address the crumbling alleys in some parts of town. Critics have complained the city should not be rebuilding alleys when so many streets are in poor shape.
City officials point to a limited pot of grant money that would not stretch very far to rebuild a street. For example, the reconstruction of a seven-block stretch of Touvelle Street currently underway will cost about $1 million for the roadwork.
But the CDBG grant money, along with a portion of a $300,000 CDBG community distress grant city officials hope to receive, would rebuild nearly every alley south of Logan Street and west of Elm Street, Bryan said.
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