Rockford hosts public hearing for street/utility improvements

The Rockford City Council received a feasibility study and report regarding 2014 infrastructure improvements for the city including streets, water and sewer services, prepared by City Engineer Jared Ward of Wenck Associates. The purpose of the study was to identify necessary infrastructure improvements, explore options, estimate associated costs and identify a schedule. Ward explained that gathering information for the report included rating streets, inspecting structures, sewer televising and collecting city staff input.

Findings of the study show that the streets are in fair to good condition, rated on the low end of a seal and mill coat and overlay, according to Ward, with that level of maintenance being required in the next five years.

The storm sewer is rated at the same level, while water main and services, as well as sewer main and services, are considered poor and requiring timely attention to prevent additional breaks, something city staff has been dealing with on a more frequent basis as the systems continue to age and deteriorate. Some of the system’s clay and cast iron components go back to the 1950 and 1960s.

Options provided in the report included “doing nothing,” with which the city could expect to see additional water breaks (now averaging four to six per year, at as much as $7,000 per occurrence) and increased maintenance costs, but which would allow for corresponding fund balances to build.

Another option would be a full reconstruct and open cut of the water mains. This option comes at a considerably higher cost and would require replacing streets considered in good condition.

Two additional options – maximizing trench-less technologies and completing a portion of improvements – was the combined and final recommendation made by Ward to the council.

The trench-less technologies would completely rehabilitate existing utilities and require the least amount of street reconstruction work. Identifying and scheduling the most immediate improvements may help manage the financial burden.

Some residents will be directly affected as improvements benefit their properties, particularly regarding sanitary sewer improvements, which have not been assessed before.

Council and staff planned an open house for Nov. 5 at the Lions Building in Riverside Park to answer questions residents may have regarding the projects.

The council voted 5-0 to accept the Preliminary 2014 Infrastructure Improvements Feasibility Report and to call a pubic hearing for the 2014 Street and Utility Improvement Project Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the regularly scheduled Rockford City Council that begins at 7 p.m. at the Rockford City Hall, 6031 Main St.