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City Unveils Street Improvement Initiative, New Equipment

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Cedar Rapids city officials announced a 10-year street improvement initiative on Tuesday morning. "Paving for Progress," as it's called, will utilize money gained from the 1% local option sales tax, and will take aim at repairing a backlog of potholes and bumpy roads throughout the city.

Mayor Ron Corbett estimated the city had about 100,000 potholes to fix, but said a few new pieces of equipment should help speed up the repair process. He showed off one three new pothole mix spreaders, which heat up a new "premium" repair mix and make it easier for road crews to spread. They cost around $65,000 a piece, and fit on the back of city trucks.

"With the upcoming warmer months, we'll start to see signs of the first road repair initiatives utilizing your local option sales tax dollars," said city manager Jeff Pomeranz.

The new trucks equipped with heated patching mix spreaders are part of a 10-year street improvement initiative. Mayor Ron Corbett hopes they will allow crews to catch up with a backlog of bumpy roads.

Public works maintenance manager Craig Hanson says the heated patcher/spreader apparatus costs about $65,000, and it augers patching mix out into a pan, making it easier for workers to throw it down.

"The whole reason we want to have this truck, for example, is so we have less injured workers," Hanson explained.

Hanson said doing it the old way involves more scooping, and more injuries. "Back strains, muscle pulls; you're also looking at long-term for 20 or 30 years, spinal injuries."

Hanson said the city is also working on switching over to a patching mix that's about 20 percent more expensive than the old material, at about $100 per ton. But it usually lasts longer - months or years, instead of days or weeks.

"When you get into truck time, labor time, chances of inconvenience to the public, it's way cheaper to spend a little bit extra on the material so it lasts multiple years, and that's what we're doing," Hanson said.

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