TWIN FALLS — Neighborhoods that had severe road damage this winter are in for some good news: Many roads around Twin Falls’ residential subdivisions will soon undergo major repairs.
This should come as a relief in places like Bitterroot Drive between Madrona Street North and Mountain View Drive, where a complex network of cracks gave way to large mounds in the middle of the street. Traffic cones have been used to help divert motorists around the obstructions.
The bad news: Expect beyond the usual amount of road construction this summer. The city will spend about five times more than what it had planned for major projects this year.
“We’ve still got a lot of stuff to fix,” Street Superintendent Dean Littler said. “We are darn sure going to inconvenience some folks to get it done.”
City staff have estimated about $9 million in winter damage to roads in Twin Falls. It will now spend up to about $4.4 million reconstructing and overlaying roads that are in poor condition this summer — mostly in residential areas where major blowouts occurred. A blowout is worse than a pot hole and happens when frost comes up out of the ground, rising a large section of pavement and crumbling it.
“This is just a drop in the bucket compared to the problem,” Public Works Director Jon Caton said.
The city has a road reconstruction backlog somewhere in the hundreds of millions of dollars, he said.
Also this construction season, the city will work on several major projects that were budgeted for last year, but did not get complete — the largest being along Falls Avenue between Blue Lakes Boulevard and Washington Street.
Nearly $2 million is going toward maintaining streets in Zone 5 — in the northwest part of town — and completing a three-year concrete pour on Eastland Drive.
“We tried to look at the jobs that do the greatest good and also that we can afford,” Caton said. “This is our best plan.”
Winter damage reconstruction
Caton has prioritized the $4.4 million spring and summer construction projects into two groupings — based on a pavement condition score taken in 2015, new damage and the amount of traffic. Work on the first group will begin to take place in the next 60 days or fewer.
Reconstruction will occur on streets that are basically “shot” and can’t be recapped, Caton said. It replaces everything down to the existing soil. Projects that are planned for a mill and overlay will just get more asphalt.
Although Falls Avenue was already planned for a mill and overlay last year, the additional winter damage gave it a first priority. Work began on Wednesday, closing both eastbound lanes. ADA ramps will be installed on the south side of the street, for reconstruction on that side taking place later in the summer.
Also deferred from last year is a mill and overlay of Oak Street from Victory Avenue to the cul-de-sac.
Other first-priority projects and their estimated costs:
Bitterroot Drive from Madrona Street North to Mountain View Drive; a $573,390 reconstruction.
A mill and overlay of Eastland Drive from Pole Line Road to Falls Avenue East ($747,500).
Reconstruction of all of Butte Drive ($240,235) and Sophomore Boulevard ($232,990).
Work on streets in the second group could begin around mid-summer. These projects include:
Mill and overlay of the C3 Parking Lot Road ($28,750); Walnut Street North from Willmore Avenue to Falls Avenue East ($63,940); and Bridge View Boulevard from Pole Line Road to Madrona Street North ($96,025).
Mill and overlay of Filer Avenue East from Locust Street North to Sunrise Boulevard North ($474,375).
Mill and overlay of Falls Avenue East from Blue Lakes Boulevard North to Eastland Drive North ($617,838).
Reconstruction of Frontier Road from Falls Avenue to the College of Southern Idaho ($955,765).
Zone 5 includes everything between Falls Avenue and Canyon Rim Road from the western city limits to Blue Lakes Boulevard.
These newer streets that will require just surface treatments, beginning in July, Littler said. Each should take only matter of hours to complete, with everything done by September.
New subdivisions that have ongoing construction will probably be postponed for maintenance until next year, he said.
Additionally, the city will complete its third year of concrete replacement on Eastland Drive south of Kimberly road. The work will start May 1 with a full closure and detour on Eastland from Eldridge Avenue to Osterloh Avenue.
The work on Eastland Drive should be complete in July.
“You have to let that stuff lay for 14 to 21 days to get strength,” Littler said.
A number of other, smaller paving projects will also be taking place throughout the summer.
Caton imagines that the city will not be able to complete all that it’s hoped for, but crews will do as much as possible before construction season ends. Work being done in the northeast this year could relieve some zone maintenance costs scheduled over the next two years.
With the extra $4.4 million worth of work, the city will have wiped out its non-essential street reserves.
“It leaves enough for an emergency,” Caton said. “But not a lot of opportunity after that.”