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Column: Please excuse the mess


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Our community’s infrastructure is the vital foundation upon which everything else depends: our economy, our safety, our health and our welfare.

For years, Columbus has underinvested in maintaining our most critical infrastructure — our roads — leading to a substantial deferred investment of approximately $35 million.

Last year, we dramatically reversed this trend by completing the most significant road-repaving project in the city’s history. We invested $4 million in rebuilding and repaving 24 miles of existing roads. This investment represented more than the previous nine years of expenditures on road maintenance combined.

This year we are on track to exceed last year’s record by investing more than $5 million into rebuilding and repaving the streets in most urgent need of repair.

We will very soon begin overlay work on several miles of asphalt streets across the city this summer. The deferred maintenance of these streets requires us to take additional steps beyond just paving a new top layer on existing asphalt.

We first mill the pavement, a process which removes the existing asphalt’s top layer. Then we dig deep beneath the surface of these streets to rebuild their foundations that have disintegrated over time by deep-patching large sections.

This work must take place before we can resurface the street. It often looks like the street has been roughly patched, but the final surface has not been applied at this stage. There is a slight delay between this deep patching work and finishing the street because different crews perform the patching and the final repaving.

This two-part process rebuilds the roads to last. Without the first step, the investment in a new top surface would be quickly lost.

This fall, we will also begin repairing most of our concrete streets throughout the city.

We’ve just completed the full reconstruction of some of our roads in the Woodside Industrial Park. These streets were built more than 30 years ago and could no longer withstand the substantial increase in heavy semitrailer traffic that uses them to access some of our largest employers.

We saved millions of dollars reconstructing these roads by using a process called full-depth reclamation. This process rebuilds roads by recycling the existing asphalt and base materials of the old roads.

We have also invested $2.7 million in local and $9.5 million in federal transportation funds to completely reconstruct three vital, highly trafficked residential collector streets.

Reconstruction was recently completed on County Road 200S and has begun on Carr Hill Road and Indiana Avenue. This work widens traffic lanes and adds storm sewers, bicycle lanes and curbs and sidewalks to make these streets significantly safer for motorists, school buses, bicyclists and pedestrians.

A complete list and map of street restorations and road projects for 2012, 2013 and this year are available on the City of Columbus website at www.columbus.in.gov/engineering by clicking on the “Street Improvements and Road Projects” link in the menu. You’ll see that the improvements span all areas of our city.

Our streets are not our only concern as we look to catch up on deferred maintenance. Last year and this year we’ve injected more than $4 million of public money and more than $1.5 million in private money to preserve and improve our existing parks and parks facilities. The work has updated and enhanced some of our most treasured parks infrastructure, including Hamilton Center, Donner Center and four neighborhood parks that anchor their surrounding residential areas.

This investment has reversed years of deterioration and helps ensure that today’s and future generations can benefit from and enjoy our invaluable parks facilities.

The city council and I are committed to making the necessary investments of your money to preserve and revitalize our public infrastructure. We are overcoming funding limitations by making our roads and parks facilities the priority they should be as the backbone of our community.

We know that the construction and repair projects cause short-term inconveniences, but they will deliver long-term benefit to all users. We do our best to minimize the inconveniences and thank you for your continued patience.

Kristen Brown is the mayor of Columbus.

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