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Plan would fix 40 miles of Wichita's streets for $6 million

Road construction companies would mend about 40 miles of crumbling Wichita streets under the annual contract maintenance plan City Council members will vote on Tuesday.

Among the major repaving projects:

* Woodlawn from 29th Street North to K-96.

* Grove from Murdock to 12th Street.

* West Street from Central to Zoo Boulevard.

* Towne East Mall Drive from Kellogg to Douglas.

The improvements — budgeted at $6 million — come as the city's street conditions continue to decline after years of deferred maintenance.

It would take an estimated $10 million a year to hold the city's overall street quality index steady.

"We're not there yet," said Public Works Director Chris Carrier. "So our PCI (pavement condition index) is going to continue to drop."

The city was poised to begin reversing the decline two years ago. But it pulled back on plans to add $1.5 million after the recession led to budget shortfalls.

A plan to increase the street repair budget to $10 million this year is on hold as the city monitors its finances, but the city may increase funding when it revises the budget in August, Carrier said.

"We're taking the conservative approach for now," he said.

City officials say that although they aren't putting as much as they'd like into street repair, the federal stimulus bill boosted the amount of repairs that can happen in Wichita.

For example, stimulus money is paying for paving projects on Hillside north of Ninth Street, Washington between Central and First Street and Hydraulic between Lincoln and Kellogg.

Carrier said transportation officials think Wichita could get another $16 million for street repairs if Congress passes another stimulus bill.

Overall, Wichita has about 1,780 miles of paved streets — not to mention nearly 100 miles of dirt road, some of which is in the city's core area.

The repair plan covers more than 11 miles of arterial streets, nearly 30 miles of smaller residential streets and repairs on two bridges.

The road repair plan is on the City Council's consent agenda and is not expected to generate significant discussion among council members.

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