For the upcoming fiscal year, the city of Denison is looking to increase its annual investment in street improvement projects by $275,000 in the upcoming fiscal year. As a part of the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the city plans to invest $950,000 in street improvements, paving projects and other related expenses.


City officials said the city plans to focus its efforts on micropaving between 10 to 20 streets in the upcoming year to increase their lifespans. In addition to this project, the city is currently updating its index of streets to determine which are in work.


"Once we get that data back in late July and early August we will be better informed decision on what program we will do for our annual maintenance," Assistant Public Works Director Carrie Jones said.


Of the $950,000, about $413,000 will be invested directly into pavement work, while $67,000 will be dedicated to sidewalk improvements and $470,000 used for bond payments for projects.


For this year’s projects, Jones said the primary focus will be on micropaving, which involves a thin layer of asphalt being applied to the top of the roadway. This will help eliminate any small cracks in the surface and extend the lifetime of the road before it needs to be rebuilt.


Jones noted that this process will likely be used for streets in acceptable condition rather than those in need more extensive work. Currently, the city uses a Pavement Condition Index system, also known as PCI, to determine and grade streets based on their condition from a scale of 0 to 100.


This ongoing update to the PCI scores represents the first update since the city initially surveyed its roads in 2015 amid efforts to increase city investment in road infrastructure. At the time, city officials set a goal of raising the score from 62 to 65 out of 100.


"We have done quite a bit of street maintenance since then, so I am quite anxious to see the changes since then. I expect it to go up a decent amount," Jones said.


In spite on not having concrete numbers, Jones said the city anticipates that it will be able to improve 10 to 20 streets with micropaving.


"Last time we did micropaving, we paid about $3.60 per square yard," Jones said. "So, with inflation... we are anticipating about $4.00 per square yard."


In addition to the routine maintenance, Jones said the city is also considering several major rebuilds of roads in the next few years. Currently, work is ongoing on a rebuild to Flora Lane, but four other projects are in different stages of development and design.


Despite forecasting nearly a million dollars of investment in city roads, officials said they are still determining which streets will see work in 2021. As a part of the process, the city is currently updating its pavement condition index scores to determine which streets are most in need of repair.


Projects that will improve Loy Lake Road and Waterloo Lake Drive are currently in design, with final designs expected some time in early 2021. Once these projects are designed, the city will be able to move on to large-scale work on Edwards and Crawford in 2022, Jones said.


Once these major projects are completed, Jones said the city can move onto major work for other roads, including the 700 block of W. Bullock.


"We are focusing so much on these larger streets — Flora, Loy Lake and those kinds of streets — and those are so big of projects that it is using up much of our funding," she said.


Starting some time in 2022 and 2023, the city is expected to expand its funding for road projects further, with a goal to invest $1 million specifically in road repairs alone by 2025.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.