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Road Work To Address Pothole Craters On Clinton And Center Streets

Portions of Center and Clinton streets in Bloomington might look a lot like this stretch of Main Street in Normal for the next month.

Some of the worst road surfaces in Bloomington-Normal will get badly needed repairs this month, according to Bloomington's Public Works director.

Jim Karch said the state has authorized $1.1 million of emergency surface work on Center Street between Division and Locust and on Clinton between Empire and Oakland. The repairs will go one lane at a time, begin Monday, and conclude by May 11.

Karch said the work will involve milling the surface, doing minor repairs to the road base, and resurfacing.

He said this is emergency funding from the Illinois Department of Transportation that had been held until the approaching end of the fiscal year.

"I have never seen this done before in my nine years of work as the Public Works director."

"I have never seen this done before in my nine years of work as the Public Works director. It rose to a level of great need," said Karch.

Karch offered thanks to area lawmakers for pressing the case.

How bad is the road surface? It's bad. Really bad.

"People will even drive outside of the lanes. People will drive closer to the curb or closer to the center line than they should, just so they can avoid those deteriorated wheel lines. So much hole patch, chip patch, or tar and chip applications have been done that it feels jarring to drive on them," said Karch.

Most roads are built to last 20 years. But Karch said the Center Street stretch was done only nine years ago.

In 2009 federal funding came through the Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed in the wake of the Great Recession because the money only went to shovel-ready projects, he said.

"That stimulus package did not allow for the time of proper planning and the larger reconstruction effort that is needed to tear out a base," said Karch.

Karch said this year's repair work is not a long-term fix either, but it will provide relief so that proper planning can be done over the next decade. Road base issues will still be present on Center Street, said Karch. He said the existing road would not be drivable long enough for full planning and reconstruction to be done.

"This buys us some time," said Karch.

Center Street was the original Business U.S. 51 with a brick base. Karch said the decision not to dig it up even though it is a major arterial road that gets heavy truck traffic was shortsighted.

Clinton Street, on the other hand, hasn't been done in about two decades, Karch said, and is reaching the legitimate end of its useful life.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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