Scraped streets sign of progress | Mizell: Roadways now have better drainage

Published 7:29 am Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bogalusa drivers by now should be in the habit of watching out for uneven spots in local roadways, but many are not happy about the need and they’re wondering how long they’ll have to keep dodging what Mayor Charles Mizell says are actually signs of progress.

Earlier this year, the city scraped away multiple layers of asphalt that represented many years worth of “Bandaid fixes” to the roadways.

The surface of the removed asphalt was pocked with holes and dotted with bumps and buckled sections. The uncovered concrete that now constitutes the surface contains its own irregularities, but it’s closer to the foundation, the starting place for real improvement, said Mizell.

During a City Council meeting Tuesday, former councilman Larry “Nub” Galloway said the streets had been “torn up for too long,” and asked if there were any plans to “redo” them.

The mayor responded.

The asphalt scraping was done to enable the city to gain easier access and make repairs to the aging, deteriorating sewer/ drainage system beneath, Mizell said.

The idea is to fix the system, which plays a part in some of the street problems, and then to replace or repair roadways on the then-more-solid foundation.

“(The council) just okayed a $385,000 cooperative endeavor agreement,” Mizell said. “The funds were supposed to be here around four months after I took office, and we just got this.”

The agreement is with the state of Louisiana for an emergency sewer collection system evaluation, and repairs, planning and construction.

While the state funds were a long time coming — Mizell took office in December of 2010 — the mayor did not wait to get started on the project that will ultimately smooth the streets.

The city had approximately $6,000 worth of emergency funding for sewer repairs, Mizell said.

“We had a little money, and with my construction background I decided to take layers of asphalt off,” he said. “The base was gone. The concrete underneath was broken, and when water got through it created a suction action.”

The repeated suction stressed and damaged the streets. Besides that, the asphalt blocked storm drains throughout the city.

“We opened the storm drains that had been overlaid with 6 to 8 inches of asphalt and were flooding,” Mizell said. “We took over 12 inches off some places.

“We had emergency funding for the sewer, and we still had to use some of our own funds to stop sewage from running down the road.”

The blockages were just part of the drainage problem.

“One more issue was never addressed as far as I know,” Mizell said. “We estimate that they added 4 more inches every year and spent $200,000 to $250,000 for gravel and sand clay gravel to fill the edge of the road up to make it even.

“The streets are actually drains now. We’ve cut a lot of them out. Water will be able to get off the road and into the ditch again and actually drain.”

The process continues, according to the mayor.

In early September, the city will receive the results of the recently conducted emergency sewer collection evaluation, which will “tell us where to start” making repairs, Mizell said.

“But first we’ve got to stop the erosion or the sewers are going to collapse,” he said.

“The plan is to build a new foundation so when we do put in more asphalt, or replace or repair the concrete, it will be there long after I am mayor.”