City responds to concerns over McKinley Street project

Residents to see driveway, sidewalk updates
Katherine Sears
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
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The curb and gutter along the south side of McKinley Street sparked concern when it appeared to be higher than the existing driveways. The City has worked to incorporate changes to the driveways to accommodate for the higher street elevation.
Photo by Katherine Sears

The City went back to the drawing board this week after residents raised concerns over the installation of new curb and gutter on McKinley Street.
Part of the 2021 Lewistown street project, a one-block section of McKinley Street between Entrance and Wendell avenues, was slated to receive curb, gutter and pavement. Curb and gutter was installed on the south side of the street last week. Residents expressed concerns about the height of the curb compared to their existing driveways. With the new street higher than the residents’ properties and driveways, some were worried about water draining into their yards and garages.

The street is gravel, and Public Works Director JR Killham said the once sleepy street has become a busy collector street, prompting the need for improvements at the expense of the city, rather than asking the homeowners to install curb and gutter before the city will cover the cost of paving.
“We spend a lot of money every year blading gravel streets,” said Killham. “This is probably among the top five streets for complaints about potholes, and it’s just not economical to continue blading it.”
These improvements required tying the new curb and gutter into the existing structures on Wendell and Entrance avenues.
 “We were working with these known and fixed elevations,” said Kaela Murphy of Robert Peccia and Associates, the engineering designer on the project. “That’s where this gets tricky.”
For the new road to drain correctly, Murphy had to raise the elevation of the existing gravel surface, and therefore, the curb and gutter.
“This was a flat road with no elevation for drainage,” said Killham. “So we took the middle of the road and lifted it up as little as possible to get water to drain to Wendell and Entrance.”
Murphy said the new elevation is higher than the existing gravel surface, and driveways, for that reason.
“Asphalt isn’t designed to hold water,” said Murphy. “It has to be able to drain or it will ruin the surface.”
When residents raised concerns, Killham said they came together to find a solution for the existing driveways.
“We knew the road was going to have to be raised,” said Killham. “Our feeling was, we would just treat the driveways as part of the project.”
A portion of the driveways fall into the city’s right of way, which also prompted their inclusion in the road project.
“When we engineered it, we saw there would need to be some field engineering out here,” said Killham. “So we went back to the drawing board to see if we could find a solution.”
That solution is altering the existing driveways to accommodate for the new street elevation.
“We found a happy medium,” said Murphy.
The three residences on that side of the street will see alterations to portions of the driveways. New sidewalk will also be installed where residents have existing concrete along the south side curb and gutter.
Though some streets in town have been paved without curb and gutter, that was not an ideal improvement for McKinley.  
“It’s really hard to pave a street without curb and gutter; for drainage purposes, and it makes it difficult to add curb and gutter later on,” said Killham.
“Now we’re keeping all the water in the street versus in the yards, which is what would have happened had we just paved the street [without curb and gutter],” he added.
McKinley Street resident Dean Quigley said although the solution isn’t perfect, he recognizes the city’s attempt to work with those in the neighborhood.
“We’ll just have to see how it plays out,” said Quigley. “They gave it an attempt and you can’t kick a gift horse in the mouth.”
MT Paving is completing the project, with the north side curb and gutter to be installed next, and pavement to follow.

2021 Street Project Update

In Progress:
Paving on East Broadway from High Street to Ouellette Street
Reconstruct on McKinley Street from Entrance Avenue to Wendell Avenue

Next up:
Paving on Northeast Boulevard Street from Ridgelawn Avenue to Lake Avenue

Paving on Hilger Avenue from Second Street West to Third Street West
Paving on Hillcrest Drive 100 Block
Overlay on Highwood Boulevard from Entrance Avenue to Evelyn Street
Overlay on Entrance Avenue from B Street to Sunset Street
Overlay on Huron Street from Seventh Avenue to Eighth Avenue