Some people may have seen orange fencing in the intersection of Third and Spruce Streets in downtown Abilene last week and earlier this week and wondered why.
“Public Works was installing an easy valve insertion to an old water main that was originally installed in 1881,” explained Interim City Manager Marcus Rothchild.
“Previously, if there was a leak from this water main, the city would have had to shut off all locations from Fifth to Second and Buckeye to Broadway,” he told city commissioners on Monday.
“This new insertion valve would actually help us better isolate each incident so there will be fewer businesses affected in the future,” he added.
After February’s long stretch of sub-zero temperatures a number of several similar situations developed in the city. The replacement on Third and Spruce was done as a preventative measure.
New truck routes
Abilene City Commissioners approved an ordinance on Monday that designated truck routes in the corporate city limits and amended city code pertaining to heavy trucks.
The streets include:
• First Street from the east city limits to Elm Street
• Buckeye Ave. from north to south city limits
• 14th Street from the east city limits to Fair Road, to only include those portions inside city limits
• North Washington from 8th Street to 14th Street, to include only those portions inside the city limits
• North Van Buren Street and South Van Buren Street
• Northwest 8th Street from Vine Street to west city limits
• Northwest 7th Street
• Northeast 21st Street
• North Brady Street from First Street to 21st Street.
The new ordinance also designated what constitutes a heavy truck in terms of weight. A heavy truck is defined as a truck-trailer or semi-trailer with a gross registered weight in excess of 30,000-pounds.
With the recent construction of Northwest Eighth Street, connecting both Great Plains Manufacturing facilities in Abilene, it was necessary to update the truck routes.
Before the commission approved the ordinance, Commissioner Chris Ostermann asked if anyone had visited with anyone from Flint Hills Grain to see if they had any input, noting the company brings a lot of revenue to the city.
Police Chief Anna Hatter said Flint Hills representatives were given copies of the original ordinance, the proposed changes and a copy of the map and asked for feedback.
“Everybody was pretty much open to what we have proposed,” Hatter said.
During work session March 1, Assistant Police Chief Jason Wilkins said city representatives had met with several trucking companies and talked about the proposed changes.
He and Public Works Director Lon Schrader spent a lot of time on the portion of the ordinance that deals with heavy trucks, looking at both the law enforcement aspect and how much weight each street can bear.
On the enforcement side, Wilkins said the police wanted only one weight listed and decided on the 30,000 pound limit. Schrader said they looked at other cities’ ordinances and used Manhattan’s as the guide.
Schrader said the streets designated as truck routes are rated to hold those heavy vehicles.
“One of our goals, when Chief Hatter and Assistant Chief Wilkins and I looked at the ordinance, we did not want to leave a lot of room for confusion,” Schrader said.
They also wanted to eliminate as many “exceptions” as possible, but emergency vehicles, maintenance vehicles and others that have to go downtown and deliver food and some others are exempt.
Commissioner Dee Marshall asked how much weight most city streets could hold. Schrader said he doesn’t believe most streets in town were initially constructed with weight load limits in mind.
“The way the evolution of our town developed, the paths that developed, we’ve been fortunate enough to have some businesses that produce those heavy trucks — like Gavin (Grain) or Great Plains (Manufacturing) settle on streets that were to some extent already constructed like concrete streets,” Schrader said.
In building new streets, the city has taken strides to take the various factors into account. For instance, when East First Street was recently reconstructed it was built using at least eight-inches of concrete.
He said the majority of the truck routes are concrete streets, with the exception of North Brady and 21st Street, which is a thick asphalt.
Mayor Brandon Rein said it was good the city was creating routes that use streets capable of handling the weight of the trucks, rather than truck drivers “deciding what is going to be the most direct or easiest route.”
“Although in the future, if there’s a large enough demand on the surface streets when it’s time to rebuild those it’s something we could look at,” Rein said. “But for right now, this is a great framework for it.”
• Proclaimed March as Multiple System Atrophy month
• Approved the 2021-22 insurance renewal with Smart Insurance
• Paid homage to former city commissioner Gerald Taylor who died last week. Taylor served on the city commission for eight years and was mayor from 1989-1990. Rothchild said city staff appreciated his service and expressed condolences to the family.
• Learned the Airport Advisory Committee had received an environmental update on the airport, which includes the removal of trees off John’s Avenue north of the airport.
• Heard two new swings have been installed at Eisenhower Park through a grant with the Quality of Life coalition
• Learned the fire department had received its new extraction tools and would be conducting training sessions, and
• No work session will be held on Monday, March 15.