While some may think gravel roads seem like a charming staple of country life, certain residents of Omaha, Nebraska are seriously unhappy about the fact that the city is turning their asphalt streets into dirt and gravel roads, according to the New York Times.
Several decades ago, a developer made the decision to save money by paving hundreds of miles of streets on the outskirts of Omaha with asphalt overlay instead of concrete, meaning the roads were never built to city standards. In 2014, to avoid spending millions of dollars fixing potholes and repaving the now-deteriorating asphalt roads, the city of Omaha decided to grind the asphalt up into gravel and leave it at that. "It's really kind of like living in the country in the city," one resident told the Times.
The Public Works Department estimates that it would cost roughly half a billion dollars to upgrade all the substandard streets, according to the Omaha World-Herald. Residents, who have to deal with mud and dust getting tracked into their homes, say their tax dollars should go toward repaving and maintaining the roads, but the city considers these residential streets the responsibility of nearby property owners. "The developer in the past made the decision to develop the street as an asphalt overlay," Mayor Jean Stothert told the Omaha World-Herald. "Is it the taxpayers' responsibility today to fix that decision? Or would they rather their tax dollars go to the heavily traveled major and secondary streets?"
For now, the city of Omaha has convened a committee to review the issue, and has compromised with some homeowners by splitting the cost of repaving certain roads.
Omaha isn't the first U.S. city to trade paved roads for gravel ones in recent years. In 2016, 27 states converted their streets from pavement to gravel, and the small town of Northfield, Wisconsin was recently in the news for turning 12 miles of pavement back into gravel after running out of money during a repaving project two years ago. "To pave a mile of road it's going to cost $60,000 to $80,000, and our budget is just over $100,000. If you pave one mile of road, you've spent just about your whole year's budget," Richard Erickson, Northfield town chairman, told the LaCrosse Tribune of the town's decision to grind up the rest of the old pavement and cover it with gravel. "We have to try and keep the roads somewhat smooth so people can drive on them, and when the funds are short, it's just the best thing we could do."
You Might Also Like