City considers contract to rev up street repairs

By EMILY WEAVER
Managing editor
Posted 8/5/22

The city of Dunn is considering a contract with SEPI to manage a pavement improvement project valued at $2 million.

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City considers contract to rev up street repairs

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Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

Pothole.

At least two-thirds of Dunn’s city streets are in need of repairs as a time bomb counts down to further decay that will cost more to fix. A small pot of money to make those repairs is growing, too, but not as fast or as loud as that time bomb ticks.

SEPI, a multidisciplinary engineering firm based in Raleigh, told the city it would take more than $15 million to fix it all in August.

The city has $1.6 million to tackle projects this year.

“I agree that we can’t afford everything, but we cannot afford to keep kicking this can down the road,” Mayor William Elmore said in a special called meeting Monday night.

City Manager Steven Neuschafer says Dunn has struggled with getting contractors to bid on paving projects, keeping contractors on budget and completing projects on time, which ends up draining more funds.

SEPI says it can help with all of that.

The city is considering a contract with the firm to select a paving company and oversee its work on deadlines in a $2 million project.

The city will use $1 million in its Powell Bill and road tax coffers and seek a $1 million loan to pay for the work, utilizing extra funds to cover a debt service of about $215,000 each year for five years.

SEPI will make a list of road improvements to complete for that amount, checking with city staff to make sure no roads torn up by water and sewer improvements are on the list. The city patches those at the end of each project.

The firm offers to complete this work for a fee of $47,000 in addition to hourly billing rates ranging from $110 to $250 for construction engineering and inspection services.

“This is a starting point and we’ve got to start,” Elmore said.

Crack-sealing and patching is expected to begin this fall and winter with resurfacing completed in the spring, weather permitting.

Neuschafer and town attorney Tilghman Pope must still go through the contract before signing.

Road conditions

SEPI studied the city’s pavement conditions in 2021 and found:

  • Approximately two-thirds of Dunn’s roads (44.1 miles) were deemed “fair,” requiring maintenance or repaving to prevent more problems down the line;
  • Three fourths of the city’s roads had some sort of fatigue or alligator cracking;
  • 2.67 miles were in poor condition and “failed” to meet standards;
  • Only 20% were free from transverse cracking (cracks running perpendicular to the center line of a street), which, if not addressed, leads to even worse cracking;
  • Only 2.04 of Dunn’s 66 miles showed no significant defects;

“All of the roads except for 2 miles in the city had some form of surface distresses,” Chris Corriher, a SEPI project manager, told the city council in a meeting Aug. 16, 2021. “Fortunately for Dunn we only had very few sections that actually failed. The bad news is that we have a whole, whole lot in the fair section.”

Councilman J. Wesley Sills motioned to proceed with the plan, allowing Neuschafer to enter into an agreement with SEPI. Councilman Frank McLean seconded his motion. It passed unanimously without a vote from Councilwoman April Gaulden, who couldn’t attend the meeting.

The contract and project details are expected to come back before the council in September.

Emily Weaver can be reached at eweaver@mydailyrecord.com or at 910-230-2028. 

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