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Published: Saturday, 2/26/2005

Ford vows fix-up for city's potholed streets

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Calling it "the largest street resurfacing program in the city's history," Mayor Jack Ford announced plans yesterday to repave 60 miles of Toledo streets and repair or crack-seal another 50 miles, partly using $8 million borrowed against future fuel tax and license revenue.

"This winter has been brutal to the streets of Toledo," the mayor said during a midafternoon news conference in the 2000 block of Jefferson Avenue. "I drive our roads every day through all parts of the city, and I can tell you I am not happy."

The announcement came amid mounting media and citizen inquiries to city officials about the decaying state of Toledo pavement. It also coincides with the early stages of an election year, although the mayor downplayed the street plan as a campaign tactic.

"Every year is an election year, as far as I'm concerned," Mr. Ford said. "If [street repairs] mean something election-wise, that's good. But if it doesn't, we're still going to do the work."

Mayor Ford cited the second snowiest January in Toledo history and "dozens of freeze-thaw cycles" as reasons for a severe crop of potholes and general pavement breakdowns on many thoroughfares this year.

Sticking with the "standard" 30-mile repaving program would be inadequate to combat the decay, the mayor said. The additional streets to be paved will be selected from streets not already programmed for state-assisted or federally assisted repairs, and city officials will identify them within two weeks, he said.

Twenty-one miles of street will be "reconditioned," meaning that rough spots will be repaired without doing a full-scale resurfacing, said Bill Franklin, the city's assistant chief operating officer.

"It doesn't look as pretty as curb-to-curb resurfacing, but it's functional," Mr. Franklin said.

And starting Wednesday, city crews will begin crack-sealing 30 miles of recently repaved streets, with the Anthony Wayne Trail to be done first, said David Moebius, the city's commissioner of streets, bridges, and harbor. Such preventive maintenance should extend the durability of recent paving projects, he said.

Tom Crothers, the city's finance director, said the $8 million will be borrowed against the more than $6 million the city receives annually as its share of the Ohio motor fuels tax and driver's license fees, paid back at a rate of $1 million per year between 2006 and 2015.

Borrowing against future needs is appropriate, he said, because the costs of repairing or rebuilding streets will only increase if the work is put off.

After the news conference, Mayor Ford said he was particularly concerned about the condition of Monroe Street near the Toledo Museum of Art, parts of Bancroft Street and Lewis Avenue, and Crittenden Avenue, a residential street in Toledo's south end.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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