Complaints about hazardous conditions prompt Works Board to create priority list for repairs
After hearing from several residents on Port Washington’s south side, the Board of Public Works on Tuesday agreed to assess the condition of alleys throughout the city and prioritize them for repairs.
Special consideration will be given to the alley that runs from Keeney to Coe streets between Foster and Michigan streets, members said.
“Regardless of how the ratings come out, this alley should be a priority,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said.
Twenty-two residents of that area signed a petition asking the board to do something about their alley, which does not drain properly and causes extensive icing.
“It’s a hazard,” said Nancy Wilmot, 525 W. Foster St., who described the alley as glare ice. “It’s an ice skating rink.”
The drainage problem is so bad that water not only runs into her driveway but also seeps into her garage and freezes there, she told the board.
She uses an ice chipper just to get into the garage, Wilmot said. adding, “I’m safer now parking outside than inside.”
Keith Knop, 507 Foster St., told the board that he has had problems with water ponding in his driveway since 2003, adding his wife fell on the ice in 2005.
Now, it’s gotten so bad he’s afraid the freeze-thaw cycle that occurs is undermining his driveway, he said.
“The alley doesn’t drain properly because of its pitch and grade,” Knop said.
The Department of Public Works has tried to solve the problem with limited success.
“It’s in need of repair,” Vanden Noven said, adding there is little the city can do short of reconstructing the alley.
The city hasn’t assessed its alleys anytime recently or prioritized them for repairs, he said, noting the city has 74 alleys that cover nearly five miles.
The city also hasn’t budgeted to repair its alleys, he said.
Funding will likely come from the street reconstruction budget if projects come in under budget, officials said.
The cost of rebuilding the alley between Keeney and Coe streets is expected to be $30,000.
Alleys are more difficult to build that streets, in large part because the driveways along them don’t meet the pavement at a uniform grade, unlike streets that meet along the curb line, Street Supr. Dave Ewig said.
“It’s a challenge in alleys to pave them and get the water to run where there are minimal changes in slope,” he said, noting this is the case in the alley between Keeney and Coe streets.
He recommended rebuilding the alley with concrete rather than asphalt, noting this is the only way to make the fine adjustments in grade needed to keep the water flowing.
“Clearly there are drainage issues here,” Ewig said.
The Public Works Department is expected to rate the city’s alleys in the coming months and set priorities for repairs when the board meets in May, officials said.