After holding a public hearing and watching a presentation showing the conditions of city streets, the Alexandria City Council unanimously voted for an option to fix them.

They paved the way to using up to $2.5 million in street reconstruction bonds.

As part of the bond process, the city was required to approve a five-year plan on how the bonds would be used, if the council decides to issue them.

Projects that could be funded through the bonds in 2020 and their estimate cost are as follows:

  • Scenic Heights Road – $675,000.

  • Irving Street – $469,000.

  • Eighth Avenue – $476,400.

  • 17th Avenue and Cedar Street – $443,500.

  • Darling Avenue and Maple Street – $230,700.

The combined cost of all the projects is just under $2.3 million.

In his presentation, City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven summarized the condition of the city streets, with 1 being in good to new shape, 2 and 3 needing overlays and/or patching work, 4 needing reclaim work and 5 needing complete reconstruction.

Of the city’s 75 miles of road, 42.1 miles were rated 1, 14 miles were rated 2, 1.39 miles fell in the 3 category, 12.5 miles were rated 4, and 1.1 miles were rated 5. There’s also 3.8 miles of gravel road.

Schoonhoven said it’s crucial to overlay streets rated 2 and 3 before they turn into 4s and 5s. It would take $4 million to overlay the better-rated roads but doing nothing and letting them fall into the 4s and 5s over the course of a decade would take $22 million to repair, he said.

“This is an investment,” Schoonhoven said. “You can put off doing the overlays for a few years but it comes back worse.”

The city has more of an investment in roads – hundreds of millions of dollars – than any other city equipment or expense. “Managing them can save hundreds of thousands of dollars – millions over time,” Schoonhoven said.

The council held a public hearing before the vote but only one person spoke. Heather Larson wanted to know when the street in her neighborhood, 12th Avenue and Maple Street, would get resurfaced. She said it would fall into the 5 rating and is bumpy and hazardous for strollers and scooters. Schoonhoven said he would check the street repair plan and get back to her.

Council member Roger Thalman wanted to make it clear that the city is not committed to use any of the bonds and could decide to not bond at all, based on budget conditions.

“It doesn’t tie us into anything – it just starts the process,” he said.

Deerwood Drive is not on the list of projects that could be funded through the bonds. Money from assessments and the city’s revolving loan improvement fund can be used to pay for the project, if the council decides to pursue it.

Street projects for next year that will be funded through other means, such as state or federal aid, include the 44th Avenue/Sanibel Drive extension and sewer work ($1.5 million), and the Hawthorne Street overlay from 11th Avenue to 15th Avenue ($603,000).

Because the issuance of bonds would increase the city’s debt and impact taxpayers, residents have the right to call for a referendum by submitting a petition that is signed by at least 5 percent of the voters from the last general election. The petition must be submitted to the city within 30 days of the public hearing.