Greensburg council takes a serious look a street cracking problems in city limits

Edward J. Naughton
Kiowa County Signal
Cracked curbage and street asphalt is creating issues for city street departments already short staffed in Greensburg.

On October 4, 2021, the Greensburg City Council spent most of its time in session discussing the ever-worsening condition of many Greensburg city streets, with alligator-type cracks becoming more apparent on streets adjacent to Main street as an example, and other parts of the city too. 

Council discussed options for actual crack repair and still hope to conduct those repairs in time before the actual surface treatment work commences that is to be done this year by the contracting company Heft & Sons, LLC, prior to onset of winter season. 

The challenge is greater because not only is the winter season not far away, but the city is short at least one city worker who had significant experience in street maintenance. 

Stacy Barnes administrator for the city indicated in the meeting that the previously employed city worker with probably the most experience in the street maintenance matters, retired at the beginning of the year. No replacement is contemplated.

The city council approved while in session a surface treatment option with the surface treatment product eFOG to be completed this year by Heft & Sons, which treatment is basically emulsified asphalt, in areas of the city marked in red zones as indicated in a map Barnes provided to council members. The specific street names in total were not delineated in the meeting.

Barnes told the city council in the meeting that she called in an engineering consultant to get an assessment done and initial recommendations were sought from that engineer.

The ever-widening cracks in streets have become more apparent, even as city council members in this October 4th session mentioned they have stopped and looked at some of the streets for themselves and noticed the problems that seem to keep reoccurring despite the best efforts of city maintenance workers to stem the tide of cracks and busted up asphalt in extreme cases.

Ben Mabry, professional engineer with Professional Engineering Consultants (PEC) did not attend the council meeting, but Barnes relayed to the council verbally what she understood came from his findings and recommendations after they together drove around and looked at the majority of city streets. An actual written report of Mabry's findings and recommendations was not brought forth at the meeting.

Mabry came to Greensburg recently and drove around the city with Barnes and two city maintenance workers to view the streets in the city. He gave his initial impressions of what he saw and what might be done about the worsening problems that exist with city streets.

In preparation for the meeting, Barnes handed out to council members a basic map of city streets, with areas marked in red as zones or city streets that need some kind of maintenance repair or surface treatment.

Barnes said that the map shows areas where surface treatment has been done in the years 2018 or 2019, and also, what is recommended to be done for this year, so that those streets that were not done in those years 2018 or 2019 could now be done.

Barnes said, "It is a pretty large section to complete, so if this is more of a price tag than you want to do this year, then we could break it up into a couple or 3 years. The life-span of eFOG treatment is every 2 to 3 years, so that by breaking it up into 3 sections and rotating around, we could do that, but that is the life-span of the product."

Barnes said that the drive-around with Mabry was helpful. They looked at the streets that were re-surfaced after the tornado of May 4, 2007, but also looked at what she called the chip-seal streets that have been around longer than that and the cracking issues that are ongoing.

Barnes said, "We looked at the various sites where we have attempted repair and we asked for Mabry's feedback."

The engineering consultant's direction according to Barnes:  continue with the eFOG sealing that the city has done the last several years.

Barnes said, "That really helps to maintain those streets and keep the longevity of the asphalt surface."

Water is the enemy, the engineer said, according to Barnes. 

Barnes said that in whatever way we can we need to repel water from getting into the streets and that if we did that it would be better. She said that surface treatment does that.

Barnes said, "Mabry did make a couple of product recommendations, one was a hot sealing product and we are looking into that product, instead of just using cold sealing products. Mabry said that sealing is something that we just have to continually do. Mabry also said that the wider cracks we see probably have to do with the subsurface, which may have a high clay content and so it holds the moisture in and it contracts and expands a lot with the changes in weather throughout the year."

The city received one bid from Heft & Sons LLC, for eFOG surface treatment according to Barnes. The bid totaled $57,000 at 60 cents per square yard for approximately 95,000 square yards. The bid does not include any provision for patching to be done in city streets.

Barnes said that the city contacted Pro-Seal but they were not interested in placing a bid on this project as it is later in the year.

Council President Mark Trummel voiced concern about what streets that might still need some type of crack repair before the contractor starts surface treatment work, and whether or not 'busted up' asphalt would be treated with eFOG surface treatment by Heft & Sons.

Trummel said, "We have numerous areas in town. I just noticed tonight while driving here to the meeting, for instance on Grant Street on the north side, there is a swimming pool there. Cracks that were sealed this summer are wide open. So my question is that with those cracks, pouring sand in them and brushing them shut - what has happened to the crack sealer that we purchased a few years ago and we used once or twice, and then put in a shed and never brought back out?"

Barnes said that due to extreme temperatures this summer contributed as one of the reasons why the crack sealer the city owns was not used that much and that its use is better employed during the fall season when it is around 60 degrees.

Barnes reiterated the need to do what the engineer Mabry said to do after he made his visual inspection of the streets, and that is to maintain previously scheduled street maintenance with crack sealing where needed, and the asphalt surface treatment. 

Council member Haley Kern said, "We will accept the bid from Heft & Sons for this project for the streets highlighted in red on our maps."

The motion was seconded and the council accepted the bid as submitted by Heft & Sons, as indicated above.