09-06 roadwork-01

City council members Monday authorized nearly $750,000 for the purchase of road and infrastructure repair equipment.

To save contracting and leasing costs, city council members voted unanimously Monday to purchase more than $731,000 in road and infrastructure repair equipment. The equipment will enable the city to tackle repairs to streets and water pipes in a coordinated manner.

The nearly-million-dollar cost for the equipment will be paid off in five years, City Finance Manager Jim Mahoney told the Herald-Press.

Under terms of the finance agreement, the city's first payment won't be due until October of next year.

Mahoney said that shouldn't be a problem.

“The city has long-term bonds being paid off in 2021, 2022, and beyond,” he said. “We will be able to budget it, and it's something the city truly needs.”

Continuing to hire outside contractors to repair streets because the city lacks its own equipment would be cost-prohibitive, city officials said.

The Bomag RS360, a piece of equipment tested by the city on Lowe Street earlier this month, will soon join the city's small fleet of heavy machinery. The “recycler,” as it is sometimes called, can tear up streets, grind them up, then use the remains to lay a solid base for pavement. It's quicker and cheaper than traditional methods used by the city.

With a hefty price-tag of more than half-a-million dollars new, the city instead found a used Bomag for roughly half that.

In addition to the Bomag, the city also purchased a distribution trailer for $48,000 and an asphalt-layer.

The asphalt layer, City Manager Leslie Cloer told the Herald-Press Tuesday, was purchased new for just over $115,000.

“There's too many things that can go wrong when you pour hot asphalt into machinery,” she said. “We thought it best if, at least with that piece of equipment, we buy new.”

New Streets Director Mark Fletcher told the Herald-Press he's thrilled with the prospect of new street equipment, but said it would be useless if the utilities department didn't also have equipment to repair the infrastructure.

“There's no sense in repairing the streets before you repair what's under them,” he said. “Why put down a new road, only to have to tear it up again to fix the pipes? Streets and utilities must work hand-in-hand.”

Utilities was authorized Monday to purchase five new pieces of equipment: a track hoe to dig through to water pipes, and a trailer with which to tow it; a Kubota tractor to clear sludge out of the wastewater treatment plant; a brush-hog mower, also for the wastewater plant; and a Tiger mower with a 22-foot arm to mow gullies, ditches, and the like.

“The Tiger mower is also a benefit to the safety of our employees,” Cloer said. “At present, they are jumping down into gullies with machetes.”

Cloer said city workers' ability to tackle road and infrastructure repairs in-house will allow them to do more for citizens on a much more timely basis.

“We've already got a lot of stuff planned up,” Fletcher said. “We're not going to be limited like we used to be. It's a prime opportunity to go out and get stuff done.”

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