Champaign Public Works ask city council to fund pothole repairs

By Angelica Lavito

Potholes are presenting problems to more than just drivers.

The Champaign City Council voted 9-0 to allow city staff to address funding for capital improvement projects, including pothole repairs, at a study session Tuesday night.

“I don’t want to paint a gloomy picture here, but we’re not even to the worst pothole month,” said Public Works Director Dennis Schmidt. “March is by far traditionally the worst month facing us, and we’re not there yet.”

The city increased the Home Rule Sales Tax last year, which is estimated to generate $2.8 million. The study session addressed allocating part of these funds to improvement projects, but did not commit to dollar amounts.

Potholes are formed through a cycle of precipitation, freezing and thawing. The concrete expands, thus forming a pothole. Filling potholes can be a temporary fix, however.

“Sometimes we’re filling the same ones because temperatures are such that it’s not making a permanent repair,” said Public Information Officer Kris Koester.

According to the study session report, snowplows scraping the patch material off the roads and constant traffic can lead to pothole recurrences.

One permanent fix to the pothole problem is to replace the area with a large concrete patch. Schmidt said 175 to 250 repairs will be completed by the end of June.

“What the bill is specifically targeting is some of the areas where the concrete has deteriorated so bad that it doesn’t make sense for us to continue filling potholes as a permanent solution,” Koester said.

“If we don’t provide infrastructure that brings (University students) back and forth, they’re not going to come here. Or they’re not going to stay … if we can keep them in Champaign, we’re better off,” said Council Member Vic McIntosh, District 3.

To address immediate pothole repair needs, the council directed staff to develop an expedited purchasing process. Normally it can take up to six weeks before construction begins, and the expedited process will shorten it to two weeks.

One time additional funding of $1 million could help complete sidewalk ramp work in multiple locations and shorten the completion of the resurfacing of Windsor Road from I-57 to Prospect Avenue to one year instead of two.

Additional funding of $500,000 could go toward resurfacing streets included in the 2015 Neighborhood Resurfacing Project.

Angelica can be reached at [email protected]