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Clear
Saturday 0%
High 62° / Low 43°
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Sunny. High 62F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph.
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High 50° / Low 36°
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Chance of a morning shower. Overcast. High around 50F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph.
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Monday 10%
High 56° / Low 41°
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Sunny skies. High 56F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph.
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High 56° / Low 34°
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A mainly sunny sky. High 56F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph.
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High 55° / Low 45°
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Partly cloudy. High near 55F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph.
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High 57° / Low 21°
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Cloudy. High 57F. Winds S at 10 to 15 mph.
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High 34° / Low 23°
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Sunshine and clouds mixed. High 34F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph.

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The Political Promise of a Free Lunch

In the recent city election, a few of the candidates relied on the age-old political tactic of “promising a free lunch” when discussing the need for street repairs in Raytown.  Most reasonable people would agree that we need safe streets that are free from potholes, and curbs and sidewalks in many of our neighborhoods. To be fair, the candidates didn’t say anything actually would be free, they just failed to mention the potential financial cost of their promises. Then again, they didn’t actually promise anything specifically, they just complained about the status quo for the most part. The target of their complaint is the use of light-weight aggregate instead of mill and overlay in street repair.

Not very exciting, but please stick with me and keep reading to get the facts. Yes, mill and overlay makes a nicer surface and last 50% longer, but that process costs more than 3 times as much as aggregate.  This is a simple allocation-of-resources problem.  If you have $15 and 5 kids, you can buy one of them a steak and four of them go without dinner, or you can feed all five a hamburger.  

In the past 5 years, the city has fixed 110 lane miles of streets using a combination of the two methods. If only mill and overlay was used, that number would have been 63 lane miles. To have completed the entire 110 miles with the more expensive method, taxes would have to be raised, or other programs would have to be cut. There is no free lunch. 

The city spends about $830,000 a year on streets. To do all mill & overlay would cost almost a million dollars more. So the next time politicians promise steak instead of hamburger, they need to also tell us where the money will come from. 

At the request of RaytownOnline, the City of Raytown supplied the cost data on paving,  some of which appears below.


Street Maintenance Program Costs

The City of Raytown maintains 331 lane miles. We use the transportation sales tax and some City revenue to pay to upkeep our streets. Over the last five (5) years the City has spent $833,600 per year for this service. These costs also include sidewalk and curb repair, striping as well as handicap ramps which is a federal law requirement under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). We have to be in compliance with this law.

To understand the numbers you need to know how the Public Works Department determines costs. A lane mile is a unit of measurement used by Public Works Departments for determining progress of maintenance programs.  One lane mile is the width of one lane (12 feet) by one mile (5,280 feet). If you have a two lane street then that would be two lane miles. A turn lane also counts as a lane mile.

The two tools the City of Raytown uses are Light Weight Aggregate Seal and Mill and Overlay. The cost per lane mile and life cycle of each tool is:

Cost per Lane Mile              Life/Treatment

Light Weight Aggregate                $21,542/Lane Mile             7 to 10 years

Mill and Overlay                          $66,176/Lane Mile             10 to 15 years

In the last five years, we have been able to complete Light Weight Aggregate on 70 lane miles and Mill and Overlay on 40 miles, in total 110 lane miles have been treated, or 33% of all the roads in Raytown using both tools. It is prudent to use the most appropriate tool at the proper time.  Using the Light Weight Aggregate treatment stretches the life of the street and allows us to keep our roads in a manageable condition.

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