By CARA LORELLO
The streets are popping open around Medical Lake thanks to a series of deep freezes, rain, snow and periods of dryness this winter season.
And frankly, there isn't much city officials can do to help the situation until things get a lot dryer, according to City
Administrator Doug Ross, who addressed the topic of street conditions at last Tuesday's city council meeting.
“We're very well aware of the problems we're having with our streets right now,” Ross said.
“Until things dry out, we can't really do much more than cover areas with dirt and put up barricades around them…
Right now there isn't enough money in our street fund to repair all the streets that need repairs.”
Dramatic swings in temperatures lately have caused water build-up below asphalt surfaces on many streets in town, Ross explained.
Side streets in particular have been prone to breakages since most contain thick dirt layers beneath asphalt surfaces.
Once water leaves the dirt layers, “soft spots” are created that give way once enough traffic weight forces it to break apart.
Streets that have experienced structural damage include Washington, portions of Grace, Hallett, Percival, Silver Lake
Avenue and a few spots on Jefferson, but Ross said the problem is pretty widespread throughout town.
“It's the worst I've seen things in the time I've been here,”
he said, adding that while it's helpful when residents call to
report damages to the city, there won't be any promises as
far as repairs are concerned given the weather conditions and lack of maintenance options.
“There are things we can do in the short term while we figure out solutions. We've asked STA (Spokane Transit Authority) to use certain streets. We may have to keep buses off of Hallett Street as well,” he said.
“It's a situation where you have to figure out if your going to fix one street correctly, and let the other six streets go, or do you fix all of them with a band-aid using the $60,000 we have in our fund.
We'll have to figure that out later,” he added.
The city is currently budgeted for three street projects slated to begin this year, which include two sidewalk projects to
Lefevre and SR-902 that will be partially funded through grants, and a resurface project for Hallett Street.
Another topic brought up during the council meeting was the city's website, www.medical-lake.org, which is currently disabled due to technical problems that are preventing staff from uploading new information.
City finance director Pam McBroom said the decision to deactivate the site came after staff found a number of
customers were submitting outdated forms and paying old fees for parks and recreation activities.
“Basically, there's a process to update information. While we can make the changes on our end, we can't upload it to get the changes out on the site when we need to,” McBroom said.
The city has been using the same online format for a number of years, and Ross said it's time to modernize the design and
features of the website for better access and overall serviceability.
“It's a big source of information for people these days,” Ross said last Thursday. “We're in the process of putting out requests for proposals to have a team come in and design an
entire new site. We'll probably look for a new ISP (Internet Service Provider) too.”
Sometime in the future, he added, the city would like to feature online payment options for customer accounts on its
In the meantime, the building process for a new site will be at least a few months and users can still access main city numbers off the website frontpage.
In other business, the council held a final decision meeting for the preliminary plat of the six-lot Lodoen subdivision,
unanimously approved last month by the Planning Commission.
Cara Lorello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org