A study of Missouri Valley streets revealed that two areas in the western part of the community are in the highest need of attention.
The results were revealed during a special meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 24, to review the street, water, and sewer studies conducted by Olmsted and Perry.
Jim Olmstead, Jacob Zimmerer, and Tony Meusch presented the three studies.
“Earlier this spring we decided to perform a study of the water system, the street system, and the sewer system,” Olmsted said. “We expanded the street study to include sidewalks and drainage as much as we could when we were doing the inventory of the streets.”
Following discussion of both the water and sewer studies, Zimmerer presented the street study report and offered maps for council’s review. As part of the street study process, the firm also studied sidewalks and drainage within the corporate limits of the city.
The community was broken down into eight districts for the purpose of the study. Each district has unique traffic patterns and similar street surfacing and age throughout the district. Those districts are as follows:
• Willow Park – Huron Street to St. Clair Street from Willow Avenue to Shawmutt Avenue.
• Grassland (O’Dell’s) Addition – Canal Street to First Avenue from Valley Street to Second Street.
• Seaton’s Addition – Canal Street to Lime Street from Ninth Street to Twelfth Street.
• Snyder’s Addition – George Street to Snyder Street from N. Blaine Street to North First Street.
• Highway 30 Corridor (Erie Street) – external two lanes of Highway 30 from Willow Creek to Sunnyside Court.
• City Central – West Huron to Grove Street from Windom Street (Dean Dewaele Way) to North 11th Street.
• Business District – Ontario Street to Huron Street from Willow Creek to Ninth Street (Highway 30 Corridor excluded).
• City West – Highway 30 corridor west of Willow Creek to west of Interstate 29.
Streets were evaluated based on the type of surfacing, condition of the street, presence and condition of curbs, gutters, and roadway ditches, as well as the condition of intersections, potholes, and how easy they are to navigate.
Street surfaces were recorded to include concrete, full-depth asphalt, concrete with asphalt overlay, seal coat and crushed rock, along with drainage issues that may adversely affect the streets were also recorded.
“You have done nine major street projects in the last 20 years,” Zimmerer said. “That is impressive for the cost that those typically are. That’s one about every two years. You have done a good job keeping those main arterial streets up and down the hills in good shape.”
Streets that have been done include portions of Third Street; Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Streets; as well as Grove, Harrison, Huron, and Ontario.
“I think there is some discussion that we need to focus on the cross streets because we haven’t spent the time doing those because we needed these thoroughfare streets done,” Olmsted added, “but there is some need there.”
Paved streets were determined to be good, acceptable, or in need of improvements, and unpaved streets (those with crushed rocks or seal coat surfaces) were labeled as passing or failing.
Snyder’s Addition has 10 unpaved blocks and 100 percent of those passed, but those were the only unpaved streets that passed inspection.
Willow Park has a total of 37 unpaved blocks, Grassland and Seaton’s Additions total 23 unpaved blocks each. None of the unpaved blocks in the three districts passed.
The firm’s evaluation of the paved streets was a little more varied with the 21 blocks in the Highway 30 Corridor determined as good throughout the district.
Following the evaluation, the firm suggested the city focus on improvements to Willow Park and City Central first, as both areas have the worst deterioration and the highest financial impact.
Total estimated costs to repair 44 blocks in Willow Park exceed $1,625,000 and City Central is estimated at more than $960,000 for 16 blocks with 12 spot locations. These costs are solely for street surfacing projects and do not include storm sewer and drainage repairs.
“The Willow Park area we are getting done with FEMA dollars. Granted, that is only 85 percent,” City Clerk Jodie Flaherty said.
Sidewalks were judged, when present, on the type of surfacing and handicapped accessibility, including ramps and curb drops.
According to the firm’s report, most sidewalks in the community are concrete with some brick, however, only 47 percent of the streets throughout Missouri Valley have sidewalks, and of those, many do not have curb ramps or warning signs.
“You have everything from brand new to looks like grass to areas of brick to large stones that appear to have been thrown there for a sidewalk. So, there is definitely a need. Unfortunately, (even though) sidewalks fall in the right-of-way, it is the property owner’s improvement,” Zimmerer said. “We have done in the past where a city would come in and do a large project and then assess the homeowners. It is a possibility.”
He added that if the city wishes to move forward on something of that nature, the firm would be happy to work with them on it.
“A lot of people are complaining that kids are walking on the street to and from school,” City Clerk Jodie Flaherty said.
Councilman Roger Gunderson agreed, saying, “We have people walking in the streets all over town. They should be on sidewalks, but we don’t have any sidewalks.”
Olmsted added that, after this initial study, the next step would be determining a priority list.
Zimmerer added that his team encountered a lot of foot traffic on Huron, Superior, and Michigan because it is not the highway, but those pedestrians often have to travel in the street when sidewalks are not available.
“We passed a lady in a wheelchair in the street because the sidewalk was not passable,” he added.
Drainage is a concern for the community, and the issue was investigated at the same time as the street study. Zimmerer found that all of the main streets have gutters and storm sewers; everything flows downhill, and for the most part, drainage works as it is intended.
The exception is in Willow Park where drainage pipes are clogged, covered, and in some cases, gone. Additionally, some residents use the ditch areas for extra parking, which is prohibited.
“Some of those areas can’t drain. It just stops,” Zimmerer said. “We are actually looking at a larger project, not only with the city, but with FEMA. How can we mitigate for the future? Consensus has been Willow Park is a great place to start.”