The city of Bellevue re-surfaced my street last week. I didn’t know it needed it.
Unlike Seattle, it wasn’t littered with potholes. There were no bumps or areas of standing water indicating problems. Yet, there was the city’s contractor, Lakeside Industries, busy at work over two days out in the Overlake area.
The first day, machines showed up to grind out areas between the street and people’s driveways. Also dug out were previous patches where past utility work had been done. The next day, paving machines rolled through, spreading new asphalt and smoothing out the road.
How nice, I thought. A new road in just two days.
The city’s Transportation Department keeps track of the streets within the city. Their age and status are logged into a computer and city workers are out and about inspecting them. When the workers and the computer indicate the time is right, streets get an overlay of asphalt.
This is important when you figure the cost difference between a simple overlay and a complete rebuild of a street.
In 2007, it cost the city (that means us taxpayers) $160,000 per lane mile to pour asphalt two inches deep for an overlay project. Expensive, you say.
Compare that with $270,000 – the cost per lane mile to
rebuild a street, which means digging up the old one, redoing the base and pouring asphalt eight inches deep.
Do the work before it’s a major problem and you pay for an overlay. Wait too long, and you’ve got a rebuild.
But the city wasn’t finished with the project on my street, although I thought the work looked pretty good. Crews were back for one morning this week adding topsoil to the space between our grass and the new pavement and reseeding the area. They even asked my wife if we wanted soil or bark on a small spot by the driveway. She opted for bark.
To some, this may seem like overkill, but I like what it says about how Bellevue goes about business.
If the city installs a planting strip or a median, it maintains it. Instead of the project turning into weeds, we instead get flowers and plants that flourish. The end result is city that is awash in green vegetation. I much prefer that (and am willing to pay for it) than being forced to look upon rivers of asphalt and concrete.
Our new street isn’t without its downside. My wife insisted we plant geraniums in our front yard to go with the new look. At least we’re doing our part.