Voter approved tax hike fuels unparalled road repair season in Libertyville

While motorists remain fixed on winter travel conditions, Libertyville officials are preparing for an unparalleled season of roadwork.

As the first year of an ambitious $20 million voter-approved and funded plan to improve about a third of the roads in town, this construction season will affect more than three dozen streets. Between “shave and pave” repairs and road reconstruction, the village expects to spend about $4.7 million in 2013 — nearly five times the annual average.

That does not include $1.5 million in water main improvements associated with the roadwork set to begin in early spring. The village last November borrowed $4.2 million through the sale of bonds to pay for various other sewer and water projects.

“This is a significant increase in the level of construction we’ve had in the village,” said Public Works Director John Heinz.

The all-encompassing road repair program was made possible when voters last March approved a tax hike to allow the village to pursue the multiyear plan. In November, the first in a series of $5 million annual bond issues was approved to pay for the rapidly approaching work.

On Tuesday, the village board approved a contract for more than $3.7 million to A-Lamp Concrete Contractors Inc. of Schaumburg for this season’s road rehabilitation work, which includes a combination of grinding, patching, paving and curb and gutter replacement on nearly seven miles of village streets.

Bond proceeds and $650,000 in motor fuel tax funds received from the state will be used to pay for those repairs.

“We’re going to hit the streets that are beginning to fall off the cliff so it is shave and pave instead of rebuild. That’s what we’ll do for the next four years,” Mayor Terry Weppler said.

The work needs to be done, Weppler said, and if it’s put off, repairing certain streets would have become more difficult, disruptive and expensive.

Also, the board in two weeks is expected to approve a second contract with a to-be-determined contractor for about $1 million to rebuild sections of Seventh and Sunnyside avenues and some alleys.

Streets will receive various repairs depending on their condition. The tentative start date is April, 1 but the schedule hasn’t been finalized. Initial details will be sent to residents on affected streets starting next week.

Heinz said the ongoing widening of Milwaukee Avenue to include the intersection of Route 137, also demands a lot of staff time. With the plethora of road and other projects, the amount of work is beyond the ability of two engineers to handle, he added. The number of engineers has dropped from four to two.

“We’re at about eight or nine times the amount of construction we had when we had a full engineering staff,” Heinz told the village board’s water and sewer committee in asking for help.

The committee recommended an independent contractor be hired rather than adding staff members.

Because this is a limited time, “we’re just going to outsource that,” Weppler said.

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