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State aid cuts hit city streets: List of roads needing reconstruction grows longer

State aid cuts to Alexandria are hitting the streets.

At Monday night's meeting, the Alexandria City Council approved an engineering contract for next year's local street overlay projects, which if not for the aid cuts, should have been done this year.

The city, according to engineer Tim Schoonhoven, is "doing a triage" on street work, spending money only on streets that are in good enough shape to save.

Expenses to other roads are limited to pothole repair.

The city has about 125 blocks of streets that are in too poor condition to overlay, Schoonhoven said. Those sections of street will have to be shifted to the "complete reconstruction" list, which is growing longer every year.

Reconstructing a road can cost up to seven times as much as resurfacing, Schoonhoven said.

Ideally, the city should be budgeting $300,000 toward street overlay projects every year, noted Mayor Dan Ness. But because of state aid cuts that began in 2003, the city trimmed the street repair budget to $100,000 and doesn't have anything budgeted for 2010.

"It's all a matter of money," said City Administrator Jim Taddei.

"We're falling behind every year," Ness agreed. "We don't like it but we are."

Next year's engineering agreement with Widseth Smith Nolting and Associates is estimated at $22,867, based on a total project cost of $276,942.

Street improvements are planned for:

•Hawthorne Street, from 5th to 9th Avenue and 12th to 15th Avenue.

•Jefferson Street, from 5th to 6th Avenue.

•Kenwood Street, from 8th to 11th Avenue.

•5th Avenue, from Irving to Kenwood Street.

•6th Avenue, from Cedar to Douglas Street.

•11th Avenue, from Hawthorne to Irving Street, and from Jefferson to Nokomis Street.

Surveying will begin immediately and work will be completed during the 2010 construction season.

Schoonhoven noted that streets are a huge city asset, accounting for tens of millions of dollars. The overlays, he said, are how the city protects that asset.