South Lincoln Street construction currently slated for 2007

Jessica Rothschuh

Many Kent residents and Kent State students bemoan the condition of South Lincoln Street, but the $700,000 the city plans to spend to fix it isn’t budgeted until 2007.

“South Lincoln Street is currently slated in our 2007 capital improvement plans,” said Chris Tolnar, Kent’s superintendent of engineering. Until then, the city will do spot repairs as needed to keep the road usable.

A few weeks ago, the street received a “chip and seal” maintenance treatment that should lengthen the life of the road, Tolnar said. The treatment consists of removing irregularities and applying a polymer-modified asphalt cement. Crushed rock is applied over the cement and is worn into the asphalt as traffic travels the street.

“Now it’s worse,” said Jae Lerer, sophomore history major and employee at The Exchange on South Lincoln Street. “Pebbles and rocks are getting everywhere. It should have been fixed over the summer.”

The loose rock on the road can dent cars and crack windshields, he said.

“People haven’t received what was done very well,” said Councilman Ed Bargerstock. “I’ve gotten a lot of complaints about it. Right now, we have a road that’s not doing what people expect it to do.”

Though Bargerstock is displeased with the street’s “fairly pothole-ridden” condition, he said he does not fault the work that has been done. There are limits to what the engineering department can do, he said. “The (road has) been long neglected.”

To remedy this, Bargerstock made a motion at a city council meeting to bring to committee a review of the “serviceability and durability” of South Lincoln and College streets, both in the short- and long-term.

But there may not be much the city can do short of total reconstruction.

“The main problem with South Lincoln is the age and condition of the road is getting to the point now where it is at the end of its service life,” Tolnar said.

And the wait may cause the price of construction to rise based on increasing oil prices.

“If a barrel of oil was $60 and now it’s $100, it’s going to be exponentially more expensive to manufacture the raw materials (for the road),” Tolnar said.

But Tom Euclide, director of architecture and engineering for the university, is involved in Franklin Hall’s renovation and said the “temporary fix” is needed until the city determines “how the Campus Link project will progress.”

Different utilities will be installed in the street based on the kind of development chosen, Euclide said.

“They just don’t want to waste their time by putting the wrong components in now,” he said.

In addition to wasting time, improvements would use funds the city doesn’t have.

“We cannot bid that job publicly until we have the funds available to complete it,” Tolnar said. Those funds may not be available until January 2007.

But this explanation doesn’t satisfy Bargerstock. He said the city’s priorities should include taking care of infrastructure.

“We are not an under-taxed community,” Bargerstock said. “We’re not putting our resources in the right places.” South Lincoln Street was slated to be reconstructed this year but was removed from the 2005 capital plan, he said.

Contact public affairs reporter Jessica Rothschuh at [email protected].