Washington streets could be paved next month

September 26, 2013
The 500 block of Duncan Avenue in Washington had to be repaired by the city Public Works Department after a large sinkhole developed as a result of heavy rains this summer. - Photo by Matt Staniszewski

Usually the season of orange cones comes to an end when the leaves turn that color.

That might not be the case in Washington, however. City Councilman Matt Staniszewski, who oversees the city’s public works bureau, said Wednesday he would soon be unveiling a list of city streets that would be paved before the clock ticks down on the warm weather season.

Staniszewski also says a tentative list of streets that will be paved next year will be revealed.

The paving would have usually been carried out in the heart of the summer, but Staniszewski maintains the city and its crews were stymied by heavy rainfall in June and July that not only preoccupied them with cleanup efforts, but also led to several sinkholes being opened on city streets that demanded their attention.

The paving is “contingent on the weather,” Staniszewski said. If the temperatures don’t dip and rain doesn’t fall, paving could continue “well into November.”

“We’ll do as many projects as possible,” he said.

Staniszewski is up for re-election on the November ballot, even though he recently accepted a job as the economic development director for New Castle, about 75 miles north of Washington. The position carries a residency requirement and, so far, Staniszewski has not elaborated on how he would reconcile staying on council and carrying out his duties in New Castle. When asked how he would supervise the work on the city’s streets when he was more than an hour’s drive away, he said that other members of council had full-time jobs that did not interfere with their obligations to the city.

Mayor Brenda Davis, who has been at loggerheads with Staniszewski during her tenure in City Hall, said she did not know what streets were due to be paved and that Staniszewski “hasn’t shared a list with anyone on council.” She said street-paving decisions were once made collectively by council members.

Davis was also skeptical about a 2014 list, pointing out that could be subject to change if Staniszewski stays on council or remains at the helm of the public works bureau, and wasn’t sure how many streets could be paved in the weeks ahead because asphalt suited to larger-scale projects such as street paving disappears from the market around October and doesn’t reappear until spring.

Valerie Petersen, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, said, as a rule of thumb, it tries to get all paving projects completed by mid-October due to the availability of asphalt.

Brad Hundt came to the Observer-Reporter in 1998 after stints at newspapers in Georgia and Michigan. Brad holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from George State University in Atlanta, Ga., and a master’s in popular culture studies from Bowling Green (Ohio) State University. He has covered the arts and entertainment for the O-R, and also worked as a municipal beat reporter. He now serves as editorial page editor.

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