The Liberty Lake City Council paved the way for a regimen of road repair at a City Hall retreat last week.
While the governing board did reach a consensus on a “chip and seal” approach to approximately five lane miles of streets in the Gardens and Cottages neighborhoods, there was considerable discussion about a previous project that featured a detour city officials would prefer to avoid this time around.
After a successful chip and seal demonstration run on roads in the Homestead neighborhood five years ago, a similar upgrade took place in the Heights section of Liberty Lake a year later. This time, larger aggregate led to a finish that would not exactly be featured in the latest rendition of “Parade of Homes.”
Doug Smith, Liberty Lake community development director, described the initial finished product as a “rough surface” and said part of the issue had to do with “a lack of educating the public.”
A few frustrated residents and a restorative effort later, the city was able to fix the problem with scaled-down aggregate.
“Those roads are now in very good repair,” Smith said.
The latest refurbishing work will address surfaces that rate the lowest on the city’s inventory of roads based on a five-year pavement management program. There are now 109 public lane miles within Liberty Lake boundaries.
“These have been identified as the worst streets in Liberty Lake,” said Council Member Judi Owens. “As a city, we’re responsible for repairing these roads.”
Smith said the cost of the projects will be covered by around $200,000 in the city’s dedicated streets fund. At the Feb. 22 retreat, the idea of a “local improvement district” – a funding mechanism formed by citizens who agree to pay for street upgrades within their neighborhoods – was also discussed. Prior to Liberty Lake incorporation in 2001, residents of the area launched a similar program called a transportation improvement district to finance a trail system now acknowledged as one of the best in Washington state.
Smith said that while council and staff have agreed on the proposal to address certain streets this spring – the weather must be at least 40 degrees or above to start construction – the approach will be reviewed with affected residents well before the first asphalt truck is deployed.
“I think it will be important to provide residents with an estimated timeline,” Smith said.
Mayor Wendy Van Orman said it was helpful to have several representatives from City Council set aside time to evaluate the roads in question. Council Member Josh Beckett was one visitor who noted that water was seeping into fissures across the pavement.
“I think they were able to see these streets and see why we need to move forward this year,” Van Orman said.