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Paving the way.

Paving The Way

Sherwood has a pavement problem.

Some streets are cracking and crumbling years before they're supposed to wear out.

During the past several weeks, the rapidly growing Pulaski County city has spent $75,000 to lay 1,300 square yards of concrete.

All of that concrete was used to replace pavement that deteriorated prematurely.

City officials aren't happy footing the bill.

Bernie Babb, Sherwood's city engineer, says, "You're going to have some cracks in concrete. As a rule, it should last longer than asphalt. But the work doesn't always get done like it's supposed to."

To solve the problem, city officials hope to upgrade street standards. The new standards would require better materials and workmanship.

The idea is to make developers financially responsible for the streets they build and donate to the city for maintenance.

If the pavement cracks prematurely, the city wants developers to take care of the problem. The proposed changes in building specifications could add up to more expensive streets on the front end.

None of the details have been worked out.

The most controversial proposal would require developers to pay for all repairs for three years after the city accepts a street. Such a requirement could require developers to provide maintenance warranties equal to half the total construction cost.

The first of what could be a series of public hearings is scheduled for Sept. 17.

The Sherwood City Council must provide final approval.

"We are having to go in and make repairs on some streets before the subdivision is even finished," says Sherwood Mayor Jack Evans. "That's why we're looking at this proposal."

Laudable Intentions

Those at Sherwood City Hall believe road crews patching streets that are only a few years old is an all-too-familiar sight.

"We hope to develop standards to cut these repairs to a minimum, especially in the early years of a development," says Bill Harmon, who heads the Sherwood Street Commission. "We're going to have better quality control and stricter requirements."

There have been instances of city workers discovering 3 inches of concrete pavement during patching operations rather than the required 5 inches. Improper grading work and improper adjustments to slipform paving machines by subcontractors are blamed for such mistakes. A lack of oversight through inspections and testing is also a contributing factor.

Inadequate spacing between pavement joints is yet another reason given for the premature deterioration of Sherwood streets.

Developers are fearful the pendulum of change will swing too far, bringing with it excessive modifications and burdensome regulations.

"Everyone agrees it's appropriate to address the issue," says Andrew Collins, president of Metropolitan Trust Co. at Sherwood. "We're looking forward to working with the city to help develop and refine some new regulations and make sure they're not applied too onerously. The intent of the proposed street standards is laudable."

The first draft proposes raising the building specifications on concrete streets from 5 inches of thickness to 6 inches.

For asphalt streets, the thickness of the gravel base would increase from 6 inches to 7 inches. The asphalt overlay requirement would remain at 2 inches.

The city's biggest problem is with the more expensive concrete streets, which are supposed to last longer than asphalt streets.

Asphalt streets are much cheaper to repair.

"When you try to correct a problem, you sometimes overreact," says Arthur Thomas, a veteran engineer. "I don't know where this is leading, but we may end up doing away with concrete streets. And that may not be such a bad thing.

"They're still going to have maintenance problems, but they're trying to reduce them. And I think there are some things we can do to help them out."

The 5-inch concrete, 6-inch gravel base and 2-inch asphalt approach is considered the norm in Pulaski County. The actual design thickness can vary according to test results from soil samples.

Sore Spots

Nothing is written in stone regarding the proposed Sherwood changes, and developers already are pointing out sections of the first draft with which they disagree.

"There are some things in there that cause me concern," says Ron Tyne, president of Winrock Development Co.

Parts of the first draft that caught the eye of developers include:

* "Review and approval shall not be construed to indicate that the city has engineered the project, has independently examined or reviewed the engineering design of the project, that the city has thoroughly inspected construction, etc."

Developers are wondering what purpose is served by the city's review-and-approval process if the city bears no accountability for it.

* "Agreements entered into between the city and the developer will bind each principal of the developer regardless of the developer's form of organization."

The section seems to run afoul of corporate liability law.

* "The developer will post a letter guaranteeing that the construction will conform to the plans and specifications approved by the city."

Developers are curious what form the guarantee would take and what liability they would face.

"We would like to talk with the city, and perhaps they will change it," Forest Marlar, president of Marlar Engineering Co. in North Little Rock, says concerning parts of the proposal.

It appears the development battle its just beginning at Sherwood.

PHOTO : GROWING PAINS: Some streets constructed by private developers are deteriorating rapidly at Sherwood. The city is thinking about instituting more stringent standards.
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Title Annotation:city officials in Sherwood, Arkansas hope to upgrade street standards
Author:Waldon, George
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Sep 9, 1991
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