GREENFIELD — City officials have hired an engineering firm to assess road conditions in Greenfield in order to create a plan for repairs.
Indianapolis-based VS Engineering Inc. is charged with helping local officials create a maintenance and improvement plan for the city’s 106 miles of road.
The firm will drive all city-owned streets to evaluate and rank them best to worst. Main and State streets will not be included in the plan, as they’re maintained by the state.
Once the data is collected, the company will use it to create a maintenance plan the street department can use to keep track of road issues and repairs.
The contract with VS Engineering costs $58,500, and it likely will take several months to develop the plan.
Street commissioner Tyler Rankins said it might seem expensive to residents, but the cost will be worth it in the long run.
Currently, the street department doesn’t have an efficient way to keep track of road conditions or the resources to inventory all of the city’s streets, he said.
“As the city grows, our department doesn’t really grow, and we have a lot of other jobs to do,” he said. “We don’t really have the manpower to put something together like this.”
VS Engineering is expected to create a five-year plan outlining a schedule of road maintenance, which could vary from complete reconstruction to basic yearly maintenance, depending on the street’s condition.
Historically, keeping track of that data has been a loosely organized process.
“Right now, it’s pretty much all in our heads,” Rankins said. “Where we put the most patch, that’s where we know we’re going to have to pave next year.”
By fall, officials said they hope to have the maintenance plan in place to begin utilizing it as soon as possible.
Mayor Chuck Fewell said it’s important for the city to have a way to keep track of its roads so those that need the most attention get it first. The plan will help the street department make better use of street repair dollars every year, he added.
He estimated the city budgets $300,000 to $400,000 every year for street maintenance and repairs. That money doesn’t go far, he said.
“This is going to, in the long run, give us a better handle on where we need to be spending our road dollars,” he said. “We want to get the best bang for our buck for the citizens.”
Many cities have a similar plan in place. For example, Avon has been using one for 15 years, city engineer Karla Vincent said.
The engineering firm will take the information it collects and put it in the city’s geographic information system map. In addition to creating the plan, it will give the city cost estimates and tips on what employees can do to prolong the life of roads.
“We can physically look at a map and see how everything overall rates,” Vincent said. “It’s always a good idea to have a plan and to know what we’re working with rather than not having a big picture.”
Rankins has assigned a street department employee to work with VS Engineering to learn how to use the plan. It’s a service he’s eager to see put in place.
“To me, it’s invaluable,” he said.