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The Beatrice Board of Public Works discussed the one and six year road and street plan for 2019, as well as the upkeep of those roads during its meeting on Wednesday.

The plan involves improvements to Sargent, Market, Seventh, Eighth, 12th, 13th, Brown and Ella streets. James Burroughs, city engineer for Beatrice, said the construction should be done by this summer.

Street superintendent Jason Moore said the projects on Market and Seventh streets would finish the truck route that’s been worked on for the last three years.

“This is a three inch mill and overlay, something new that James and I started three years ago,” Moore said. “In the past it was always a two inch mill. Due to the heavy truck traffic, James and I thought that it was best to try and bump up an extra inch and see how it held up for us. Right now only time will tell on that, but that should finish out our truck route.”

A mill and overlay is where the top layer of a street is grinded down and removed, and a new layer of pavement is put in its place.

Burroughs explained why some roads require a three inch overlay while some only need two inches.

“We have a lot of two-inch asphalt overlays on old, crushed concrete-type base. In your local roads, when all you have is passenger-type vehicles and garbage trucks, they seem to hold up ok,” Burroughs said. “When you have that same type of design set up on Lincoln St., which is an arterial street, and you have a lot higher traffic loads and more truck-type traffic, it doesn’t hold up. We’re seeing four year, five year lifespan on a brand new road. Which isn’t long enough. We’re looking at asphalt roads, full-depth, brand new design, there’s no reason those roads shouldn’t last 20-30 years.”

Burroughs said the cost of an additional inch would be paying for the material, as the construction workers would already be on site.

“The benefit we’re getting out of one inch of asphalt far outweighs the cost,” Burroughs said.

Burroughs explained that one of the ways the city protects and maintains the streets is by using armor coats.

“Armor coats is a process of laying an emulsified asphalt mixture down and putting rock on it,” Burroughs said. “It reestablishes the wear, the friction factor on that road. That’s something we’ve always done. I believe those costs have went up substantially this year. Another product that came out that communities are starting to use is rejuvenators. Instead of it being an emulsified asphalt rock, it’s a mixture that you spray onto the asphalt that actually soaks into the asphalt and rejuvenates that mixture to make it less brittle, more pliable and flexible and allows it to get the asphalt surface back up to where it needs to be to function and not crack and break as much.”

Burroughs said that rejuvenators are half the cost of armor coats, but they don’t add anything structural to the asphalt, meaning roads with a poor base are still going to break apart.

“We have downtown areas where it has a good base and is going to hold up structurally,” Burroughs said. “We think we can put the rejuvenator on there at a lot cheaper cost, and get those roads to last 20-30 years. This will be the first time we try it. We’re going to try it on the truck routes downtown, and we’re going to look at those and see how those roads hold up compared to the other roads that don’t have it.”

Burroughs said he had a company put some rejuvenator on a part of 13th Street several years ago to see how it’s functioned.

“Right now when it rains and everything, you drive on it and you can tell a noticeable difference between the look of the road compared to the other streets that do not have this rejuvenator on it,” Burroughs said. “So far I like what I’m seeing, but we only want to do this where we know we have a good base.”

Burroughs explained that every street in Beatrice is in a database and given a sufficiency rating.

“When we get below a 60 or 50 percent sufficiency rating, that tells us that road has sufficient age on it, and that we need to go check that road out and see what kind of condition it’s in,” Burroughs said. “I create this spreadsheet, which includes all those projects for Jason. Then his guys go out and check those roadways to see if those numbers correlate to what we think the road is at. Because a lot of times, the road is either in a lot better condition than the sufficiency rating says, or it’s in worse condition.

"We’ve had roads that are 80 or 90 percent sufficiency rating, but they’re in terrible condition. So we still use our judgment when we go out to create these projects, but we try to start somewhere with a spreadsheet that gives us some idea where to begin our projects.”

The second year projects, scheduled to be completed in 2020, include improvements to Ella, Perkins, Scott, Grant, High, Fourth, Fifth and Seventh-12th streets.

Moore said that would complete the improvements to the downtown streets.

“You should see a lot of the north/south downtown streets completed by the end of next year,” Moore said. “To me, that’s really going to make the downtown look a lot nicer.”

“Those are pretty well set, unless some special circumstance arrives that would move a project up,” Burroughs said. “Other than that, the other projects are just our ideas of what we think we’re going to be at, but those are very fluid.”

The next BPW meeting is February 27 at 12:10 p.m.

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