Fighting potholes by patching streets, a work in progress with the web portal

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MUNCIE, Ind. – Even as the first snowstorm of the season did its part to further deteriorate city streets last week, plans were taking shape to improve driving in Muncie.

The city administration released its plan for 63 separate projects to repave and improve city streets in 2022, at an estimated cost of more than $6 million.

Mayor Dan Ridenour said the city will face years of neglect with this investment in the city’s infrastructure.

“Muncie was facing a negative balance of $1.9 million in the Local Road and Streets account. This balance was settled in 2020 and nine streets remained paved,” the administration said in a recent statement. “With the financial challenges met, the street service is now going full steam ahead on the pavings.”

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Ridenour told The Star Press that some streets were removed from the 2023 plan and added to 2022 due to the need to improve those streets as soon as possible.

Last year, paving contractors were often unavailable to complete the projects they were hired for due to a labor shortage during the pandemic. Ridenour said he was assured the paving companies were back on schedule and would be able to do the work this year.

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Scheduled for the second quarter, beginning in April, plans call for the completion of 26 projects at a cost of $1.5 million, with the city of Muncie and the State of Indiana sharing those costs. These projects will include New York Avenue, Greenwood Avenue and Elgin Street.

The city will move to complete a project on Mulberry Street, working on sections between Main Street and 21st Street. This project is also expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2022 at a cost of $703,799.

Ten additional paving projects, including Beechwood Avenue, Edgewood Drive, Briar, East 22nd and Maplewood Avenue, cost $1,104,189 and are expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter of 2022, according to the city.

“The last batch of road works will take place in the fourth quarter of 2022 and will consist of 24 different road works,” the city reported. “This lot has been submitted to the State of Indiana for review.”

Work scheduled for the fourth quarter has an estimated cost of $2.15 million and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Additionally, the Muncie Health District will work on a repaving project in conjunction with work on thoroughfares such as Riverside Avenue and Hoyt Avenue. The Riverside works are included with the development of a pathway and drainage works along the corridor.

A winter storm blanketed Muncie in snow on Thursday and created more potholes on local streets.  The Ridenour administration announced its paving plans for streets last week as the mayor urged residents to report more potholes as they appear.

The state is helping pay about $3 million for road and street work, the city reported.

Some thoroughfares will not be completed this year, the mayor said, including major roads like Tillotson Avenue and McGalliard Road. Work on these roads, with four traffic lanes plus a turning lane, is a massive undertaking involving a lot of planning and requiring a lot of approval.

The city is prioritizing street work based on a review by a company that walked every street in the city last year and ranked each street and its need for work.

“We wanted to eliminate politics,” said Ridenour, who said the repaving will be based on objective need rather than the political clout of whoever wants their street paved.

While streets with bad areas might not be repaved immediately, potholes can be filled in and possibly sections repaved, Ridenour said.

David Penticuff is the local government reporter at the Star Press. Contact him at dpenticuff@gannett.com.

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