Almost one in every five roads in Champaign in poor condition

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Darrell Hoemann/C-U Citizen Access

White Street, one of the worst ranked streets in Champaign, on November 2.

White Street, one of the worst-rated streets in Champaign, is getting a much-needed facelift, which began in the fall of 2016, with an expected completion by the end of 2017.

In an analysis of Champaign’s most recent city pavement database from 2015, three sections of White Street have a or pavement condition index (PCI), below 10 — more than any other street in the city.

PCI measures the extent and severity of pavement surface distresses (such as cracks and rutting) and the smoothness and ride comfort of streets.

“One thing to keep in mind is PCI is a starting point for identifying what streets need work. Not all streets of the same rating necessarily require the same treatment. PCI identifies candidates for work; further evaluation and investigation is needed to determine what is needed in each case,” assistant city engineer Chris Sokolowski said.

The average PCI of the streets in Champaign in 2015 was 66, which is considered to be good condition. Streets in Champaign received the same average PCI in 2008.

The city pavement database comprises every street within the Champaign city limits. The most recent database contained 3,065 separate streets.

The worst-rated sections of White Street were between First and Second streets and Fourth and Fifth streets. Both sections received the lowest possible rating of zero. Only four street sections in the city earned zero — the other two being Market Street (between Logan and Willow streets) and Elm Street (from 361 N. Vine St. to the end of the sidewalk on Elm Street).

The section of White Street between Third and Fourth streets is also low-rated, with a PCI of six.

The city contracts a specialized pavement consultant to inspect each street in the city and maintain the pavement database, Sokolowski said. The current practice by the city is to conduct new inspections every other year.

Updating the information on a regular basis helps track the current pavement conditions and develop better projections for future road conditions to aid in work planning and budgeting of maintenance dollars, Sokolowski said.

In 2015, the city awarded the contract to Applied Pavement Technology, Inc. for $272,925.

The public works department categorizes each street in the following five categories based on PCI: excellent (81-100), good (60-81), fair (41-60), poor (21-40) and failing (0-20).

Concrete pavement streets in the failing category would exhibit distresses such as large cracks and concrete panels breaking up into smaller parts in large areas. A failing asphalt street would show fatigue cracking, which are cracks in the wheel paths and indicate the road is struggling to handle the load of vehicles. This results in a larger volume of visible potholes and patches on the street.

For drivers, a street with a failing PCI would typically result in a rough ride quality. Specifically, the rough riding experience for drivers occurs because of distresses that result in bumps, dips and potholes.

Of all the streets in Champaign:

  • 35 percent of streets were considered to be in excellent condition.
  • 25 percent were in good condition
  • 22 percent were in fair condition.
  • 15 percent were considered to be in poor condition.
  • Only 3 percent were considered to be failing.

The public works department defines major streets (or arterial streets) as ones that carry the most traffic and the heaviest vehicles, such as trucks and buses. Many of these streets tend to be through roads.

Sokolowski cited the following as major streets: Bradley, Church, University, Kirby, Windsor, Curtis, Staley, Duncan, Mattis, Prospect and Neil.
University Avenue and Curtis Road were the only major city streets with excellent condition PCI ratings.

Streets considered to be in good condition included Kirby, Duncan, Church Green, Mattis, Market and Staley.

In the fair condition range were streets such as Randolph, Prospect, State, Washington, Wright, Windsor, Bradley and Neil.

White Street, a main transportation vein connecting Champaign’s Campustown area to downtown Champaign, is one of the more traveled streets in the city.

Because of this, White Street is one of the major streets refurbishment projects in Champaign as part of the MCORE (Multimodal Corridor Enhancement) Project. The MCORE Project is a major infrastructure revitalization project in the Champaign-Urbana area funded through federal grants.

The City of Champaign is expected to shoulder $14.7 million of the cost for the project.

Specifically, the White Street project (between Second and Wright street), along with the Wright Street project (from White Street to Springfield Avenue) is slated to cost $5.4 million with an expected completion date in 2017.

In fiscal year 2016-17, the city is expected to shell out $1.2 million for the White Street refurbishment. The funding for the project is coming mainly from the city’s North Campustown Redevelopment Fund, which aims to reduce blights in the area and provide grants for businesses.

Other street repairs to be funded
White Street is not the only poorly rated street set to receive major spending by the city in 2017.

The city is scheduled to spend $2.9 million on another MCORE-related project, the Green Street refurbishment (between Fourth and Neil streets). This project involves repairs to four street sections with PCI ratings in the poor condition threshold, such as between First and Second streets, Second and Third streets and Third Street to 160 W. Fourth Street.

Another project in the current fiscal year to repair low-rated streets are the Marshall, Chester and Water Street improvements. It will cost nearly $1 million. The project will include repairs to one of Champaign’s worst streets, the Water Street section of Chester, which received a PCI rating of five.

In the 2016-17 fiscal year, the city will bear major costs for general street repair in the Capital Improvements Plan. The city will spend about $2 million in asphalt street maintenance, $1.6 million in concrete street maintenance and $360,000 in sealant oil coating.

In the current fiscal year, the public works department itself is set to spend $1.3 million for street maintenance, up slightly from $1.27 million in fiscal year 2015-16