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Street delays blamed on lower utility use

Staff writer

Postponing several projects in mid-July left Marion searching for ways to patch and hold its streets together for at least another year, which streets director Marty Fredrickson blamed on lost revenue.

Money was planned for two blocks somewhere in town in 2020, but it never materialized because COVID-19 decreased income for the city.

“The schools are closed, and some of your businesses are closed,” he said. “The air conditioners weren’t running and they weren’t consuming water, so our revenue streams are less. That affected some of the projects we had planned, and projects pop up we don’t expect.”

The city’s Elm St. gutter replacement is ongoing, but all other projects, including reconstruction on Coble, Roosevelt, and Freeborn Sts., are postponed at least until 2021.

The city made its final decision on postponement in mid-July, after being not receiving a grant from the state department of transportation. By that point, the pandemic had been around a few months.

Repairs that took place on Coble St. late last week were for a waterline repair and were unrelated to the street’s postponed construction project.

Some, like Grant St. resident Lucille Bitner, see little indication their streets ever will be improved.

“The city doesn’t care,” she said. “They just let it go.”

Bitner says her street, as well as others in Jex Addition in Marion’s southwest corner, flood every time there is a hard rain.

“There are other streets in town that probably are just as bad,” she said. “I don’t think they get the water like we do.”

Trips to city council meetings over the years make Bitner think no change will happen.

Bitner has lived on Grant St. for 10 years and said she has had flooding issues most of that time, even referring to her street as “Lake Grant.”

Working with streets in Jex Addition and other areas without a high crown to the street is difficult because gutters quickly fill with water, Fredrickson said.

“It doesn’t have a lot of drop for the water to drain where it needs to go,” he said. “It’s just that the elevations are so flat.”

Regardless of fixes that require money or adjusting the streets themselves, a simple method that would help greatly is being sure to keep gutters clean, Fredrickson said.

“They fill up with dirt, leaves, and grass overtime,” he said. “It’s just a maintenance issue, really.”

Last modified Aug. 5, 2020

 

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