West Douglas Avenue to be patched soon

By Ryne Turke on October 4, 2016 at 7:08am

Jacksonville aldermen have agreed on a temporary solution for the city’s last remaining brick street.

Back in August, aldermen were presented with three options for fixing West Douglas Avenue: leave the street as it is, overlaying the roadway with asphalt or undergoing a complete reconstruction of the street.

With a crowd of around 20 community members in attendance, aldermen reviewed the pros and cons of each option during a planning and public works committee meeting.

Due to the estimated price tag of $2,326,000, aldermen agreed now was not the time for the complete restoration of West Douglas Avenue. Aldermen were also against paving over the brick street, due to the roads historical significance and popularity among the community.

Aldermen also agreed doing nothing wasn’t an option. In the end, the decision was made to patch the rough spots for now and table a final decision on the street until more research is gathered.

Alderman Bill Scott says the decision is much more complicated than most people realize.

“As I understand it, there is some sewer issues and sewers leaking. This would cause the street to sink. It is possible to go in, repair those and patch the street, then relay the brick. We could throw X amount of dollars at it for the budget, but we aren’t going to know any of this until the utility department has a sewer project in the future. I don’t know if it will be two years, five years or ten years. That is going to impact that street in a big way,” says Scott.

Scott says aldermen have probably “sat around too long and done nothing” when it comes to the restoration of West Douglas Avenue. Scott hopes this meeting generated an “idea and figure” that can be put in the upcoming budget.

Alderman Travis Richardson recently got in touch with East Peoria-based Interlock Brick Paving, a company using federal funds to repair brick streets. Richardson says the EPA grants could be a possibility in Jacksonville.

“I want what the residents want. Obviously I want to keep the brick and that is our first choice. We have to do what is in the best interest of the residents of Jacksonville, but my first choice is definitely to keep the brick if we can,” says Richardson.

Street Superintendent Les Ballinger breaks down the temporary fix for West Douglas Avenue.

“We’re going to go in there and put a cold patch in and try to fix some of those little dips. It is an asphalt and rock mixture that will last a couple years. It isn’t very pretty right now and this will get us through the winter anyway,” says Ballinger.

Ballinger says his crew will have to assess how many “low spots are on the street” before taking action.

The road was originally built in 1906.

In other action, a stop sign will be added on Case Avenue. Also, no parking will be permitted at the corner of North West Street and West Independence Avenue while school is in session. There will also be a no parking rule enforced on Grove Street from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Instead of removing stops signs at Gladstone Street and Hoagland Boulevard, aldermen decided to leave the signs in for safety reasons. Aldermen noted students walk home from school in that area, so the topic was tabled.