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City to look at graveling program

The City’s portion of York Lake Road is notably the most controversial and has been a topic of discussion for a number of years.

The City’s portion of York Lake Road is notably the most controversial and has been a topic of discussion for a number of years.
— Trent Mandzuk,
Director of Public Works with the City

The City of Yorkton will be taking a fresh look at the level of service it provides regarding gravel roads.

“Gravel roads are an area that are very under-funded,” suggested Trent Mandzuk, Director of Public Works with the City.

Mandzuk was providing a report on gravel roads to the regular meeting of Yorkton Council Monday.

The report came about after a meeting Nov. 7, with representatives from the RM of Orkney, RM of Wallace, York Lake Park Authority and City of Yorkton gathering to discuss level of service (LOS) of gravel roadways within City limits.

“The City’s portion of York Lake Road is notably the most controversial and has been a topic of discussion for a number of years,” noted Mandzuk, who added later in the presentation the road was his department’s “most contentious issue last year” in terms of complaints with telephone calls received almost daily.

Mandzuk said York Lake Road is an ongoing issue.

“Over the past few years the York Lake Park Authority has brought forward many requests to the City of Yorkton to cost share improvements for this roadway,” he said. “These proposals have been difficult for City administration to support, as the City’s recommended engineering standards have never been incorporated into any of the repair strategies proposed.”

As an example, in 2014, the York Lake Park Authority asked the City to consider the use of reclaimed asphalt as a repair option.

“City administration did not see this as a cost effective means of repair and the request was denied,” said Mandzuk.

“Most recently, the RM of Orkney and York Lake Park Authority have asked the City to increase levels of service. Winter operations such as snow removal and ice control are not a concern; however, summer operations such as blading and dust control have been an ongoing issue for many years.”

Mandzuk said the issue relates directly to fairness in terms of gravel roads across the city.

“The current level of service for all the City’s gravel roadways and/or alleys adjacent to multifamily dwellings and commercial property consists of blading twice per year, dust control twice per year and spot graveling as required,” he said. “Back alleys in residential areas receive a lower level of service. Alleys are bladed once every four years and spot gravelled at the discretion of the Public Works Department.

“Current funding levels only provide for four per cent of the network to be gravelled per year. At this rate, it would take 25 years to add two-inches of gravel to all the gravel roadways within the City’s present jurisdiction.”

That is the parameters for service on York Lake Road, offered Mandzuk.

“The level of service previously established for York Lake Road is the same as other gravel roadways within City limits; blading twice a year, dust control twice a year and spot graveling as required,” he told Council.

“Unfortunately, budgetary levels are seldom the driving force controlling levels of service. Field operations often become complaint driven as frequency of public complaints increase. Contrary to public perception, York Lake Road has received higher levels of service in comparison to all other gravel roads within the City for 2014 and 2015. To ensure “fairness” to all citizens and to attain a balanced budget, it is extremely important for City administration and Council to support levels of services once they are established.”

The RM is looking for more.

“The RM of Orkney and York Lake Park Authority have asked the City to consider matching the frequency of maintenance operations currently employed on the R.M.’s section of York Lake Road,” said Mandzuk.

Mandzuk said the RM section is bladed on average 21 times per year (based on the past three-years) between the months of May to September. That is based on daily traffic counts observed, this equates to the road being bladed once for every 3,907 vehicles travelled.

Further, gravel supply has been identified at an application rate of 130-yds3 /lineal mile.

“As this level of service is currently practiced in the RM, it would be difficult to propose lower service levels without public criticism,” said Mandzuk.

Mandzuk said if the City offered the RM level of service to all gravel roads within its jurisdiction, there would be an increased cost.

“If this LOS is accepted, an additional $45,000 will be required for grading and gravel expenses,” he said. “Dust control expenditures should also be increased to coincide with more frequent blading operations. An additional $15,000 should be added to the budget for this purpose.”

For 2017, $60,000 (not including increases to wages) will be required to provide these proposed service levels.

Blading a road once for every 3907 vehicles travelled is not an excessive LOS. Therefore, these increases will be added to the 2017 Public Works Department operating budget for Council’s consideration, said Mandzuk.

Mandzuk did add they would be doing additional research to confirm the RM numbers, adding further discussion with all stakeholders will confirm the proposed cost share agreement: 1/3 RM of Orkney, 1/3 York Lake Authority and 1/3 City of Yorkton.

The report was accepted by Council with funding suggestions tabled to 2017 budget deliberations.