Jacksonville Mayor feels West Douglas brick renovation unlikely

By Ryne Turke on August 23, 2016 at 6:58am

Jacksonville aldermen have three choices on what to do with the only brick street in the city.

West Douglas Avenue, originally constructed in 1906, has retained its existing condition for more than a century.

As concerns grew among the community regarding the streets poor condition, Jacksonville City Council sought out the help of Hutchinson Engineering.

Jim Burke presented the companies feasibility study results Monday night.

“The three options were a no build alternative, where the street would remain as it is. That is just a short term solution. The other option we looked at was overlaying the roadway with asphalt. That would fix the ride-ability issue, but degrade the historic portion of the road. It would cover up the road entirely. The third alternative was complete reconstruction of the roadway. We take the brick up, put new curb and gutters down new, put asphalt down, then lay the bricks back over it with a new storm sewer system. The roadway would have a rough texture, but a smooth finish.”

A mailer was sent out to the 79 city residents living or who have property on West Douglas Avenue. Burke says the nine question survey and two public informational meetings gave the community a chance to voice their concerns and questions.

The questionnaire consensus showed residents would like something done with the roadway, keeping the street brick would be the preferred option and the city should be responsible to fund the project .

As for the recommendation of Hutchinson Engineering…

“Based on the primary objective to just fix the ride-ability, the cheapest option was to overlay it. It certainly is not a recommendation to overlay it without the consideration of the historic nature of the roadway. Given the constraint of what to do to fix the ride ability, that will be the cheapest option to pursue.”

An asphalt overlay of the street would cost around $311,000, compared to the brick restoration estimated at over $2,326,000.

Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard say the price tag on the brick restoration was “really high” in his opinion.

“When you are talking that much money for a street, when our street maintenance program is half-a-million dollars a year, it really would deplete the money. I think there is room to repair some spots on West Douglas and I think the council will eventually go that avenue. We will budget for that, but as far as renovating the brick street, I don’t think that will be in the future of our city,” says Ezard.

Ezard says the restoration of West Douglas has been discussed by aldermen for over a decade, so no immediate timetable is being put in place.

Among the several payment options the City of Jacksonville could pursue for the project, Burke suggested using funds from the motor fuel tax. Jacksonville receives around $475,000 a year for road maintenance funds.

Regardless of which decision aldermen pick, Burke advised that several repairs be made. Burke pointed to pothole problems and utilities crossings heaving. Burke says a local street should have a 30 mile per hour speed limit design, but due to tight street parking and the road’s condition, drivers are only able to drive 10 miles per hour at a comfortable rate.

In other action from the meeting, aldermen approved a $96,400 proposal from Kone, Inc. for improvements the the electric elevator in the Jacksonville Municipal Building. The nearly 50-year-old elevator will undergo its second upgrade.