Blue Earth eyes street repairs

BLUE EARTH – City Engineer Wes Brown told the Blue Earth City Council on Monday that Eighth and Sailor streets have more pavement on them than the Minnesota Department of Transportation originally believed.

Before the state began working on Highway 169, it agreed to repair the streets used to detour traffic around construction. Two of those streets are Eighth and Sailor. Traffic was re-routed for about a block on each and both have sustained quite a bit of surface damage.

The state thought the streets had an inch of pavement, but Brown reported that Jamie Holland, director of Public Works, had his crew cut blocks out of the two streets Monday and found that the pavement goes down about 4 inches.

“What we’re going to repair the pavement with has changed because MnDOT wants to pave it in kind,” Brown said.

Councilman Glenn Gaylord asked if the city can make the pavement thicker.

“We could add base to it at the city’s expense,” Brown said.

It would cost $4,450 for each street, or $9,000 for an extra inch of depth.

Brown’s goal is to have the streets repaired so they last at least five years, when the next scheduled reconstruction takes place. He is confident the depth of base already there could last for five years because the original pavement has lasted for decades.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey said her office was unable to find a contract for the last time the streets were fixed, but she suspects it was in the 1970s.

Brown said MnDOT is contractually obligated to put the street back to the way it was before the detour, with the same depth of pavement.

“If they’re willing to go with that average and we think we can get five years out of it, I’m OK with that,” Gaylord said.

Brown expects the state to finish Highway 169 before it paves Eighth and Sailor.

“As long as the weather holds up the next couple weeks, they should make it,” he said.

Moving on to another topic, the council heard from Fire Chief Roger Davis, who explained repairs that need to be made to the platform of the aerial ladder truck purchased two years ago.

The truck went to Emergency Apparatus Maintenance Inc. with a leak in the hydraulic system. While undergoing those repairs, it was noted that the welds holding the platform at the end of the extendable ladder are cracked.

Hanson’s Auto gave the fire department a quote of $23,000 to repair the platform.

“Is there a chance somebody would’ve gotten hurt [while using the defective equipment]?” Gaylord asked.

Davis admitted it was a possibility.

“Then I think this is pretty cheap,” said Gaylord, comparing the cost to someone being injured.

All totaled, the fire department has spent about $60,000 on repairs and will overrun its budget by about $65,000 this year. The entire budget for the fire department is $230,000, which means it will be over-budget around 31 percent.

Bailey explained this is all a glitch in a normally well-run system.

“We’re pretty frugal,” she said, noting that since 2008, Blue Earth has maintained a budget in the black. She expects other departments to come in under budget.

“People need to keep in mind it is expensive to run a fire department and it’s all about community safety,” she said.