In 2000, the Waupaca County Highway Department embarked on a 20-year plan to reconstruct 110 miles of roadway.
The plan called for five miles of reconstruction and 17 miles of paving annually, as well as 51 miles of seal coating, five miles of preliminary engineering for future projects and five miles of right of way purchases each year.
The total annual cost to implement the plan was projected at $6.56 million.
Initially, the county made the investments and managed to keep relatively on schedule. But as state and local budget problems and the recession ate into revenues, the plan seemed more difficult to achieve.
“Out of 110 miles of roadwork identified in 2000, we’re basically down to 42.5 miles that need to be reconstructed,” according to County Highway Commissioner Dean Steingraber. “If we could continue on this course, we could be done within 10 years.”
Steingraber said that once the major reconstruction projects are completed, the cost for the county’s road work could be cut in half.
“It costs approximately $600,000 per mile to reconstruct a road,” Steingraber said, noting that a road needs to be reconstructed about once every 60 to 80 years.
“We can repave a reconstructed road three or four times in 20-year cycles,” Steingraber said. “It costs about $150,000 per mile to pave a road.”
He said roads need crack filling and seal coating every five years, which costs $12,000 per mile.
After the major reconstruction projects are completed, Steingraber said the county could maintain its roads by paving 17 miles and seal coating 51 miles annually for a cost of $3.16 million.
“Over the last 11 years, we have done a lot of work,” Steingraber said. “We couldn’t have accomplished it without borrowing money.”
The $2.6 million in bonding for highway projects that the Waupaca County Board approved in October is $1 million less than the County Highway Commission and Finance Committee had requested in September.
Of the Waupaca County Highway Department’s total $3.77 million budget for capital improvement projects in 2011, $2.6 million will come from bonding, $1.17 million will come from federal, state and local governments paying for their share of a project, and about $500,000 will come from the local tax levy.
Steingraber said the county will save nearly $900,000 by not applying the final surface matte over the reconstructed areas of County Road X between U.S. Highway 10 and County Road A in the towns of Lind and Weyauwega.
In 2010, the highway department reconstructed a two-mile section of County X between County EE and Hatton Road. In 2011, the County X reconstruction project will continue from Hatton to County A for a total cost of $2.4 million.
Steingraber said a binder matte will be applied to the reconstructed road to cover the gravel, but the surface matte will be delayed.
Steingraber said a consequence of delaying the final surface matte will be that the pavement will deteriorate faster than it should.
Other delayed projects include South Main Street, from Badger Street to South Park, in the city of Waupaca. The county will also delay work on Shadow Road, from South Park to U.S. 10. Both of these roads need work done as part of a jurisdictional transfer from the county to the city. The county will save about $230,000 in 2011 by delaying these projects.
Reconstruction of County Road Q, from State Highway 54 to Round Lake Road, will be done in 2011. The 1.5-mile project will cost about $900,000.
The county will spend another $300,000 for projects that are currently in the planning and engineering stage. These projects include a County Road C bridge in the town of Wyoming, County Road B from Euclid Street to the railroad tracks in Manawa, a section of County Road D in New London and a section of County Road E south of the city of Waupaca.
“We’re trying to keep the projects going and minimize the impact on people,” Steingraber said.