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Long Road Ahead To Fix Streets

Falls City struggles to find way to repair roads damaged from storms

FALLS CITY — This year’s harsh winter has been especially tough on paved streets in Falls City.

Streets in Falls City are split evenly between paved and gravel, at 14.2 miles and 14.1 miles, respectively.

“This winter killed us. I mean it’s killed everyone. If you drive the interstate to Portland, it’s in rough shape,” Falls City Mayor Terry Ungricht said. “We are going to lose the block closest to Ellis street on Fair Oaks is something is not done. Bridge Street with all the logging traffic with the chains this winter really tore it out on that corner.”

He warned the council it may have to make some tough decisions soon.

Ungricht said the city’s public works committee will examine the issue, but it’s possible the council will need to consider asking voters for a levy or letting some streets to go to gravel.

“We have some real issues with our paved streets,” Ungricht said. “This is just something I want you guys to be thinking about because some cities are turning their streets back to gravel.”

He said with the city split between paved and gravel, getting a levy passed to maintain paved streets may be a tough sell, but allowing streets go to gravel means the city would have to do constant maintenance and deal with dust. Chemicals used to control dust are too expensive for the city to use, he said.

Councilor Cliff Lauder said the city would have to invest in equipment for gravel road upkeep if that is the route they take.

“To go to all gravel streets in the city — or as they fall apart — we would be obligated to invest in a nice smaller road grader and roller so we can keep up with them,” Lauder said. “If we don’t have good grader, we don’t have a roller on them, we have loose gravel streets in town, it won’t work.”

Ungricht inquired whether the city could chip seal the damaged areas, but said that comes at a considerable cost and wouldn’t work in the most heavily damaged areas.

In other business, the council:

• Heard that Ungricht will meet with a search firm to discuss looking for a professional city manager. Ungricht has filled the role since April 2015.

“I might bring to you guys a bid on possibly going out for a city manager,” Ungricht said. “I think it’s kind of time. I think it would be more effective with a professional manager.”

• Elected Tony Meier as the council president.

• Approved allowing the Economic Development Committee continue to meeting through March 2018.

• Approved purchasing a new public works truck for $22,900 divided into four annual payments. The truck came at a considerable discount and with a warranty.

“This is a $34,000 for $35,000 truck that we are getting for $22,900 because they give municipalities a good deal,” Ungricht said. “It’s something that needs to be done and think you are wasting money if you are buying used.”

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