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  • Karrie E. Alms: Amazing insight into the world of politics awaits any reader at pibgorn … from a Demon’s...
  • Tony: Homefield is Dynegy. Dynegy is Ameren. There Charging You twice for the same energy. Do you really thihk $.04...
  • SouthEnder: Also does anyone remember the Velvet Freeze located on Jefferson St, up the street from the Warner Homes....
  • Eric Pollitt: I flew economy class to Hong Kong for Christmas vacation, which is a 14 hour flight. When I got back...
  • Mike: Homefield has been sold to dynery. Google dynegy scandal to see who your new parent is. If this upsets you give...
  • mortified: Fun while it lasted. Godspeed!
  • aaron: your blogging will be missed but i know that your spirit of fairness will remain alive in your other...
  • Jon: CJ, your blog was a revelation and an inspiration. You have a wonderful talent that is an asset to the...
  • Billy Dennis: Of course the Chronicle is done: Screw you. The Chronicle is one of the best researched blogs...
  • Paul Wilkinson: CJ, am sorry you have ended your blog. It was well done. It seems many have given up as we keep...
  • Sharon Crews: Your voice is definitely needed in this community. Thanks for all your insights.
  • emergepeoria: Your blog is great resource to research Peoria issues. I hope you leave it up.
  • BucketHead: I was not suggesting that, I believe the both of you had very strong common sense and that lead to your...
  • C. J. Summers: Without anonymity, there is no courage among my detractors. Take a look back at the wide variety of...
  • Of course the Chronicle is done: Without Sandberg to give stores to the Chronicle there is no Chronicle.

Can’t maintain the roads we have. Let’s build more!

On the City Council agenda Tuesday night is a request to spend another $87,369 toward the Pioneer Parkway Extension project.

The extension of Pioneer Parkway is a planned, new, major arterial roadway that will support projected development of the area identified for coordinated, beneficial growth management by the City of Peoria, Peoria County, and the Greater Peoria Sanitary District. The proposed roadway extension will begin at the intersection of Allen Road and Pioneer Parkway and continue west to intersect Trigger Road.

The project has been in the planning stages since 2001, and over $2 million has already been spent ($1 million of that came from a federal grant secured by Ray LaHood). The $87,369 is to cover more “bridge, intersection and environmental engineering studies” to complete the Design Report.

While we continue to pursue building a “new, major arterial roadway,” our existing roads continue to deteriorate as they are starved for maintenance funds. According to the City’s website, Peoria has 450 miles of City streets, and “the majority of these streets have a chip sealed surface.” They go on to say Peoria has “approximately 63 miles of asphalt surface, 36 miles of concrete pavement, and 5 miles of brick streets.”

If you do the math on those numbers, that comes out to 346 miles of roads that have a “chip sealed,” also known as “sealcoat,” surface. Yet the City has not done any sealcoating of residential streets or any overlay of arterial streets since 2009. Any road work you’ve seen here lately is for state routes or interstate highways which are not maintained by the City. The reason we haven’t been doing sealcoating or overlays? Budget. The 2010 budget has a big “0” for this maintenance. The 2011 budget has $750,000 in it for “arterial streets overlay,” but still no sealcoating of residential streets.

Keep in mind that sealcoating itself is a cost-saving measure, since it’s cheaper than doing an asphalt overlay of all residential streets and is considered “preventative maintenance.” The Federal Highway Administration finds that $1 of preventative maintenance when roads are in good to fair condition “will cost $4.00 to $5.00 or more for rehabilitation … to get the same pavement condition from [preventative maintenance]” when roads are in poor to failing condition.

In 2007, the City sealcoated 65 miles of streets. In 2008, they sealcoated 66 miles. And in 2009, 59 miles. That’s an average for 63 miles a year. That means Peoria is about 63 miles behind on their sealcoat plan after skipping 2010. And after putting off preventative maintenance this year, too, the City will be 126 miles behind. How much money will we really have saved once we have to rehabilitate poor and failing roads as a result of this neglect?

But, you may object, we simply don’t have the money to budget for it. As necessary as sealcoating is for preventative maintenance, if we can’t afford it, we just can’t do it.

And that brings us back to the Pioneer Parkway extension. If our budget is so tight that we have to neglect necessary maintenance of our existing streets, what is the warrant for spending any money on planning or building a new arterial road? How many streets would $87,369 sealcoat? If we have that money in the budget, we should put it toward maintaining streets, not building new ones.

An extended Pioneer Parkway would be nice. It might cut five minutes off a drive from Allen Road to Route 91. But it’s a want, not a need. It’s been estimated that this new road will cost $50 million to complete. Is your driving convenience worth $10 million a minute? Is it worth keeping the rest of the City’s streets (maybe even yours) in a perpetual state of disrepair?

When funds are tight, the Council needs to make “tough decisions,” as councilman Eric Turner reminded us frequently during the campaign. I hope he and the other council members make the “tough decision” to vote “no” on the Pioneer Parkway extension, and put that money instead toward maintaining our existing streets.

42 comments to Can’t maintain the roads we have. Let’s build more!

  • Dennis in Peoria

    I have to agree with you on this, C.J. Just like the State of Illinois, IMO, funding priorities should be 1. Education 2. Public Safety 3. Maintaining current roads, no new construction 4. Human Services.

    Since the City does not fund education, then it should be 1. Public Safety 2. Maintaining roads 3. Human Services 4. Economic Development

  • W. Hernandez

    God forbid those D5 residents should have to drive up Allen rd to get to route 6. Since they built that Wal-Mart & Salvation Army store, all sorts of city trash has landed on their turf. Those folks paid their dues and deserve a road that by-passes the lower forms of life that gravitate out north.

    Remember last week when, during Eric Turner’s acceptance speech, he said “We didn’t get re-elected to conduct business as usual”? Yeah, let’s see if he holds to that promise. It goes without saying that I have my doubts.

  • wtf

    Making tough decisions was Spain’s mantra as well. If you remember Azouri’s response, it was along the lines of it doesn’t seem cutting police and fire are tough decisions, saying “no” to a developer is.” I think this hits it on the head. This will pass, most likely little discussion and we will be driving on Nebraska, Glen, and other bone jarring streets to have a new one out north, after all developers will build more if we put in a road.

  • The Mouse

    City streets are, for the most part, in terrible condition. Even when they are “repaired” they quickly fall apart. So, we add more streets, which means more maintenance needed, more salting and snow plowing, etc., and the older areas lose more businesses and residents, which means more decay, crime, etc. The unbooked liabilities continue to go up and then they wonder why they can’t balance the budget.
    But, I’m sure this is part of some city “master plan” they concocted at some planning session. Anyone ever think to tell the City that it’s not the job of a bunch of politicians who temporarily hold city offices to make these plans? Once upon a time the citizens made decisions themsevles about how the city developed, which is as it should be. They couldn’t do any worse job.

  • We do not need more roads. Our overall population and traffic levels have not increased substantially in decades. Building more roads, especially if it does accomplish the stated goal of more growth northwest of the city proper, at most merely makes those same motorists have to drive farther.

    What we should be focused on is reducing current traffic levels by reducing car trips and miles driven. Encouraging distant growth with more miles of roads does the opposite, and only creates more inefficiency and waste.

    Garth-

  • Sterling

    This discussion shows some fundamental misunderstandings regarding the roadway design and construction process. First and foremost, Pioneer Parkway isn’t going to be built tomorrow. While the City has seen minimal growth over the past ten years, this roadway probably wouldn’t be built for another ten years anyway. It is shortsighted to frame the project in today’s landscape instead of when it’d actually get built. That’s why you go through years of environmental and engineering studies to make sure this highway would be cost-effective to build in the future.

    Secondly, this latest $87k is for the study and design, not for construction. If this roadway won’t be needed for twenty or thirty years, it’s far more useful to get through the study now and let the plans sit on a shelf in a “shovel-ready” state than to start from scratch when the area begins to develop again.

    Thirdly, from a development perspective, this is where a new road should be going. We’ve seen development spreading further and further into Dunlap north and west of Route 6. While redevelopment of the urban core is far more desirable (Warehouse District, anyone?), the market is still leaning towards suburbanization. Like it or not, people, and especially families, still want the house in the suburbs rather than living in the city and dealing with crime. Pioneer Parkway would encourage new development contiguous to existing development in Peoria close to our major highways, with a new interchange with Route 6 to boot. I’d rather see new development inside our ring road than far out in Dunlap or across the river.

    If you want to rail against the project, there’ll be plenty of time to do that when the eight-figure construction estimates come out. In the meantime, let the engineers finish their studies before we’re stuck with yet another unusable half-finished highway plan.

  • Sterling — I believe my post made it clear that the money was for the Design Study and not for construction. This expenditure completes that report and, once it’s approved, moves the project forward to design engineering for the construction phase. No doubt you’ll come on here and tell us that we should also pay for that phase because no actual construction will have begun then either, and we’ll have plenty of time to rail against the project later. Then actual construction will begin, and we’ll be told that we should go forward because we’ve already spent all this money on designs and it would be foolish to let all that money go to waste. I’ve been through this rodeo more than once. It’s the old “boiling a frog” trick.

    Take a look at the council communication under “impact if approved.” “After approval, staff can begin design and ROW [right-of-way] acquisition….” The impact if not approved? “No forward progress….”

    No, the time to stop this is now, before we spend any more money on it. This roadway is not needed. I acknowledge that this would be built within current city limits, so no annexation would be taking place, and that’s all well and good. But what you’re suggesting is a vicious cycle. Continued investment in the northwest at the expense of our urban core only exacerbates the problems our city is facing. We need more investment in our urban core to make it a desirable place for people to move into. Not only that, what about the people who already live in the urban core? Is it too much to ask that they have their streets maintained?

  • “Continued investment in the northwest at the expense of our urban core only exacerbates the problems our city is facing. ”

    Isn’t this type of development the main reason why the core of the city is ignored and decay and with that crime comes along? Why should we pay to continue this process when we are over extended now? Why waste another dime on it at all?

  • Suburbanization as a trend has long since reversed nationally. Peoria may or may not still be an anomaly in that regard, but that does not mean that we should encourage more sprawl.

    A blanket statement that fear of crime is motivating a general or inevitable suburbanization is an oversimplification. There are many vibrant neighborhoods in the city, with low crime rates and good educational options (fear mongering notwithstanding). We have ample land and well built housing stock for our population, within a 5 mile radius of the city center. Especially with the current housing market and transportation costs, these options probably appeal to more people now than ever.

    I wonder if the more suburban options are faring very well right now. Recent development has shown a resurgence closer to the city center. There is the new Hyvee at Sheridan and Lake, the new Fresh Market on Sterling, and new developments along University like the Golden Corral and Walgreens. Much of this development falls far short of ideal, but it suggests more interest in nearer environs. Also, the new paved parking surface at Westlake is at least an improvement.

    The single proposal cited by CJ may not be a significant piece of the puzzle, but it provides one more opportunity to point out the bigger picture. If we prioritize our land use policy to support the core areas of the city, instead of attempting to satisfy imagined population growth abandoning the city in ten years, we can begin to reimagine our city. At some point, we must recognize the effects of our choices, and begin planning our built spaces to serve the needs of humans instead of the needs of the insatiable automobile.

    Garth-

  • outsidethebox

    Lye Sumek said at last Saturday’s city council retreat, no matter what you(council)does or does not do, 20% of the population is against it. Being against everything is right in the wheelhouse of a type blogger, I believe. However, I don’t think 20% of Peoria’s population pays attention to blogs, the number is far less. Also, have not seen a word on any blog about the Peoria Riverfront Museum Private Board surpassing the minimum committment for the museum endowment. While I’m on record on this blog of some of CJ’s concerns about the museum being valid, it’s interesting when something good happens with the museum, ie. under budget construction bids, endowment goals reached, nothing is said. That’s OK, I guess, but any bloggers considering themselves journalist bloggers(I don’t mean you, CJ)renders that moniker invalid. Journalists, would typically just report the story as it happens, not making opinion fit their view of the truth, tainted as it may be.

  • Karrie E. Alms

    The rubber hits the road tonight …. yet to be seen if the ‘talk the talk’ candidates are the ‘walk the walk’ elected officials…. should be interesting.

    outsidethebox …. it is good that there is an increasing ‘commitment’ of more pledges, nevertheless not collected dollars … waiting for that celebration of two in the bush is more than one in hand

    Have any journalists reported about where the missing $5M promised from the ‘bankrupt’ state of Illinois going to come from ….

    the proof is in the pudding …. since the ingredients are still being added … when the cake is done then let’s see what taxpayers will be getting for their money ….

    Meanwhile no money for the continuation of the GED program at Peoria County Jail so that people are able to turn their lives around and become productive citizens.

  • David P. Jordan

    Extending Pioneer Parkway westward to Rt. 91 would make sense if Growth Cell 2 was being promoted (and promoted successfully, I might add) for light industrial development. But it is not. No need for it now, or even in the near future as long as we can’t afford it.

  • Sterling

    C.J. – My noting of design vs. construction was not due to any lack of clarity on your part. I was going over that stipulation for other readers who may not have caught that distinction. My experience has shown me that the general public doesn’t often see or understand how “the sausage gets made” in projects like this.

    I agree with David Jordan that this is only a logical project contingent on the City’s appropriate development of Growth Cell 2. However, this may be a catch-22: the area would be more marketable with a Pioneer Parkway extension, but the extension may not be feasible if the area is not marketable.

    It’s important to also consider the land uses in the area. East of Allen Road is developed with a mix of residential south of Pioneer, industrial north and commercial straddling the corridor. At the west end of the corridor, the Route 91 area between War and Grange Hall is developing as commercial and institutional — including new health care facilities. Considering there are no east-west connections in this area between War and Alta Road and no direct access to the Route 91 corridor from Route 6, a connecting arterial is definitely worth considering. That would reduce travel times and mileage not only for travelers in the area but also on other arterials such as War.

    While times are tough in the municipal budget and even if suburbanization is dying as Garth suggests (it isn’t — Kendall County in exurban Chicago was the fastest growing county in the nation with a 92% population increase since 2000), improving transportation links in our current system is still important to consider and plan for.

  • Vonster

    EM: Entropy.

  • Leslie Smith

    How ’bout we spend some money on Adams Street between Komatsu and the McCluggage Bridge? That stretch is a hot mess. They just keep filling the same pot holes week after week, month after month. I’m guessing the City Council doesn’t spend much time in the North Valley to realize how bad it is.

  • W. Hernandez

    Leslie, You’re correct. They don’t have the same presence in the valley that their campaign signs do.

  • vonster

    I agree we have to build new roads to support all the growth out north BUT I do think we need to support the existing roads first. If the funds aren’t available for THAT, then no new roads.

    You have to realize though that most city officials get brainwashed into the grow or die template.

  • vonster

    BTW – they ARE fixing Washington Street from west of Darst toward downtown.

  • W. Hernandez

    Federal grant, I think it may be part of the stimulous package. Someone interject if I have my facts wrong on that.

  • Leslie Smith

    Hernandea, I guess the good news is that there are some horrible streets in the “good” parts of town as well. Glen Avenue between Sterling/War Drive and University could seriously use to be repaved as well.

  • vonster

    Yes, the COP is hard at work improving the entrance road to Weaver Ridge!!

  • vonster

    The COP should have declined to accept the Weaver Ridge streets as City not private.

  • vonster

    Although maybe Sandberg could explain to me why they couldn’t.

  • Paul Wilkinson

    They are fixing the area on Washington St. with State funds only to be torn up using federal stimulous funds. great city council planning on this. Oh, yes, they are blaming the other governments for the screwup.

  • New Voice

    Outsidethebox,

    “Also, have not seen a word on any blog about the Peoria Riverfront Museum Private Board surpassing the minimum committment for the museum endowment. While I’m on record on this blog of some of CJ’s concerns about the museum being valid, it’s interesting when something good happens with the museum, ie. under budget construction bids, endowment goals reached, nothing is said.”

    THE ENDOWMENT GOALS HAVE BEEN REACHED!?!? Negative. I think the Peoria Riverfront Museum Private Board [which sounds a little dubious anyway… considering the PRM is supposed to be a PUBLIC entity!] is counting their eggs before they are poached. The “minimum committment” set by the Board is an arbitrary number that has changed frequently over the years.

    I will eat bricks and sing praises to the museum if in [even] five years, the museum is still able to meet its expenses WITHOUT a further tax dollar committment from the city/county.

    By the way, the check for the $5 million from the State of Illinois was sent to my house by mistake. I am NOT giving it back.

  • SD

    One of the biggest problems facing fixing the streets is that the code for the materials to fix the streets is way too low. They are putting the cheapest materials allowed on streets and consequently they have to keep doing it over and over again. If the base standard would be raised, yes, it would cost a little more but you would do it half as much and we would be driving on a lot safer streets. These roads in the condition they are now are definitely a hazard. Add to that the repair costs for front end alignment, busted tires, dented fenders and bumpers. Busted mufflers and pipes from bottoming out on big pot holes, struts, shocks, etc., its unbelievable what the total cost is adding up too. And someone is going to get hurt from these pot holes one of these days. Driving down hill on Sterling headed toward Farmington Rd., is a short span of road but you can jar your car into a million pieces in just that short span. Last Fall they completely redid both sides of that street and today you wouldn’t believe they had touched it in a hundred years. Raise the materials standards and pay the right price and get it done right and not have to do it over and over again. We are destroying ourselves trying to get off cheap. Cut something else but not our infrastructure and safety.

  • Paul Wilkinson

    The biggest problem with fixing streets, or sidewalks or other infastructure is that is simply is NOT a priority. When I hear the words “critical or crutial.” I immediately know that it is neither one to the tax payers and start following the money trail.

  • Wallenstein

    Can’t maintain the infrastructure within our existing city boundaries. Let’s annex more cornfields on the north side of town!

  • District 150 observer

    What does “follow the money trail” mean?

  • Paul Wilkinson

    tax dollars go from A to B or some to BC and sometimes goes from BC disrectly to D. Who benefits from the use of our tax dollars and that will mean individuals or companies, but look a little deeper and find the relationship between the vote and beneficiary (ies).

  • District 150 observer

    You are alleging kickbacks to council members?

  • There is a difference...

    In reading between the lines and putting words in one’s mouth.

  • Paul Wilkinson

    No, I am just following who benefits from these projects when the public doesn’t seem to be.

  • District 150 observer

    So do you think there is a council person who is benefitting personally from these projects?

  • Paul Wilkinson

    At this point, I would suggest that on the agenda items an additional line item be added which would note if an elected official or official’s employer, family, friends, has a relationship to projects, or even a significant campaign contributor (to be defined officially), or other criteria as necessary, so that the public is aware, so that the member mentions why they are abstaining, or so that either the public or other council members can address if necessary the need for an abstention if failed to do so by the member. That is transparency in gov’t.

  • District 150 observer

    So you have no specifics about a council member financially benefitting from any of these projects?

  • District 150 observer

    Paul, the “friends” part of your proposal would be very difficult to define. This is a small town–lots of people know each other. Relatives and campaign contributors is easily defined.

  • Paul Wilkinson

    District 150, What, if any information, I would have I wouldn’t post it here, it would go to the proper authorities.

  • Paul Wilkinson

    I am suggesting that people ask more questions when there are any projects or contracts that use public funding and don’t seem to benefit the public. It is a reasonable question and it is reasonable to expect an accounting of public funds.

  • Paul Wilkinson

    The COP is like a poorly run restaurant, always looking to expand. You come in and sit in the older part, you have coming here for a long time and pay your bill regardless of the service. The owners are always busy wiping down new tables and axiously looking to fill those slots, your table isn’t wiped off, there is no money to pay staff to do that, although you order the same basic fair, if you get served, it is really for someone in the new section, in hopes they show up. You are asked to pay your bill regardless and expected to come back next week. You will occasionally get a pat on the back if you wipe down your own table and fix your own dinner and clean up afterwards, but you are charged a bill to the owners none the less. The best tables are saved for those who promise to invest in the restaurant. Their service is excellent dinner and wine are top notch, and their bill is no charge to them, it’s instead handed to you. They are big tippers though.

  • District 150 observer

    Good, Paul, because “follow the money” inferred that there were some financial improprieties going on among council members. Glad to hear not.

  • cw

    The first section of the “Trails” little two lane highway turned out well,complete with yellow lane stripping..Priorities first..