LACONIA — "I thought hell had frozen over," recalled Janet Flynn of Cleveland Place, when a crew from Busby Construction Company began reconstructing the South End street, an elbow macaroni-shaped loop of less than a quarter of a mile that connects Academy Street and Fair Street. "They did a good job," she continued. "This is lovely."
Paul Moynihan, director of Public Works, said that he did not know just when the street was last improved, but said "I've been with the city for 35 years and it hasn't been touched in my time." He said that much of roadway had deteriorated, leaving little more than a rutted track, while the flat terrain and inadequate drainage left the roadway and shoulders prone to flooding.
Eileen Pelchat said during heavy rains the children on the street changed into their swim suits and swam in the puddles, "pretending they were fish. We called it Cleveland Lake," she remarked with a smile. "We're were wondering if we'd have to pay property taxes for waterfront property."
Describing Cleveland Place as "a good neighborhood where everybody looks after everybody else," she said the new street only made it better.
Moynihan explained that the street was fully reconstructed with a two-inch base and one-inch top coat. Drainage was added and connected to the main on Fair Street and the sanitary sewer line was improved. He anticipated the final cost of the project would be about $90,000, of which $48,000 will have been spent on the street, $28,000 on the sewer and $14,500 on the drainage. He said that the paving will be completed with the asphalt wearing course and shoulders will be leveled and turf restored in the next few weeks.
"I love the new road," declared Tammy Haddock, who has lived on Cleveland Place for 17 years, "except for the bumps at both ends. I have a new car and I don't like the bumps." She also expressed concern for the safety of children who regularly ride bicycles and play games in the road, Haddock said that although the street carries little through traffic, apart from delivery trucks, the fresh pavement may lead drivers to increase their speeds.
Moynihan said that Cleveland Place was one many — perhaps 20 percent of all city streets — that have not been improved or rebuilt in the past 35 years. He explained that about $1 million was spent on roads and streets in 1987, 1991, 1994 and 1996, but since 1999 at least that much has been spent every year. The 2015-2016 budget, scheduled to be adopted this month, appropriates $1,750,000 for street repairs and City Manager Scott Myers has indicated he expects to budget about the same amount the following year..
In 2012-2013, an inventory and assessment of city streets found that the average "pavement condition index" (PCI)was 63 on a scale where 56 to 70 represents "fair." At the same time, the survey found that 26.2 miles, or 32 percent, of streets are in "failed" to "poor" condition with PCI s between 0 and 55 while 55.8 miles, or 55.8 percent, of streets are in "fair" to "good" condition with PCIs between 56 and 100. Roads in "fair" condition deteriorate rapidly and the cost of maintaining a road in "fair" condition is a third or a quarter that of repairing a road in "poor" or "failed" condition.
Lending priority to the maintenance of roads in "fair" condition makes optimal use of the available funds while some streets in "poor" or worse condition can be improved each year.Altogether five or six miles of roadway would be either repaved or reconstructed each year with an eye to raising the average PCI of city streets to at least 70 in the next eight to 10 years.
Meanwhile, a gentleman returning home to Cleveland Place from work voiced his approval of the reconstructed road, then remarked "we'll see how long it lasts."
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