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Funds needed due to shortfall of supplies for light, but necessary repairs to city streets

With the rainy season less than a month away and city public works staff and contractors rushing to finish street maintenance before then, public works staff have asked the Newberg City Council to boost funding for this year's project by more than $200,000.GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - The city public works department has asked the Newberg City Council for an additional $200,000 in funds to buy additional asphalt sealant to complete a $850,000 street maintenance project.

Rather than adding to the flurry of work underway, the funding would allow work to continue on an $850,000 contract that's been partially on hold since the city underestimated the amount of asphalt sealant needed by about 40,000 pounds, according to city reports.

While city staff walked along the roads and noted the length of the cracks that would be sealed while preparing the project scope, Public Works Director Jay Harris said staff under-shot the depth and width of those cracks and therefore under budgeted the supplies needed to fill them in.

"You try to estimate the best you can up front, and the estimate wasn't that accurate," Harris said. "At the end of the day, though, the importance of crack-sealing is to keep the water out of the pavement system."

City staff presented the $201,000 change order to the council for approval Sept. 5 as part of the council's consent agenda, which is usually approved with little discussion. The council approved the measure without discussion.

The change order would be added to the $847,000 contract the city approved in July with Knife River Corporation-Northwest that, in part, included crack and slurry sealing of about four miles of city streets — work to be paid for by the Transportation Utility Fee (TUF) set to appear on property owners' municipal bills starting this week.

That work has largely been on hold due to the city's miscalculation of how much crack sealant would be needed, which is used to fill the biggest cracks before adding the layer of slurry seal to cover the smaller cracks, Harris explained.

While he noted the city could have pulled back the scope of work to keep costs in check, he compared that to not replacing bad shingles on a roof, explaining that water would leak into the system and damage the structure.

"That's why it's important to get on the cracks sooner to keep the water out to keep the pavement system from cracking more," he said.

With the $1.2 million of expected revenue from the TUF split with about 70 percent to keep fair roads from deteriorating and 30 percent allocated to overhauling failed roads, the sealing work represents the former category.

The overhaul of Eighth Street is among the more intensive projects in the Knife River contract, which has continued through the sealing delay, but is expected to run beyond schedule through Sept. 14 – meaning work was expected to continue as classes resumed at Edwards Elementary School Tuesday.

With the infusion of money from the TUF into the road maintenance budget as of this year, Harris said the city is in the process of drafting a priority list for the next five years.

The list is likely to give precedence to streets with higher volume, like River and Wynooski, while small, dead-end streets will likely have to wait for at least five years, he said.

He expected that list will be available on the city's website in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, the full list and schedule of this year's project is available at http://bit.ly/2vvriTg.

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