Tumbling around in a four-wheel-drive Jeep over rough terrain through the uncharted backcountry of the African wilderness is a great escape for those with an adventurous spirit.
However, that same experience isn’t quite the same when traversing the rough terrain of Menomonee Avenue while taking the children to soccer practice.
If you wince and feel a tinge of pain every time your car tire slams violently into a crack or pothole in the pavement, there are some roads you may want to avoid in the village. Menomonee Falls Patch met with the village’s Director of Engineering Tom Hoffman to identify some of the village’s most deteriorated roads, and examine the process the village takes to identify and repair them.
Identifying troubled roads
Hoffman said the village maintains about 220 miles of roads in the village. Every other year, the Engineering Department assesses the roadways using a standardized evaluation system that assigns a numeric value to the condition of a road.
A road rated at a 10 is basically a newly constructed or paved road free of blemishes. A road rated at a 1 is considered a failed roadway turning into rubble and in need of total reconstruction. The village tracks these roads with a color-coded map that illustrates the condition of all village roads.
“We don’t have any 1s but we have a couple 2s,” said Hoffman as he looked over a map filled with green (excellent roads) and red (roads in need of repair) roadways in Menomonee Falls.
Roads rated at a 2 have severe distortions, potholes, extensive patching and what is called alligator cracking. Alligator cracking gives the pavement the appearance of alligator scales.
With the number scale in mind, here are some of the worst sections of road rated at a 2 to drive in Menomonee Falls in no particular order:
- Menomonee Avenue from Sunset Ridge to Fleet Avenue
- Pilgrim Road from Main Street to US Highway 41/45
- Main Street from US Highway 41/45 to 124th Street
- Cleveland Avenue from Pilgrim Road to Jefferson Avenue
- Shady Lane from Menomonee Avenue to Main Street
- Warren Street form Lilly Road to Highway 145
- Streets in the Starlight Manor Subdivision
- Fleet Avenue, Donald Court and Elsie Avenue
- Blair Lane and Susan Avenue
- Streets in the Menomonee Manor Subdivision
- Duke Street from Princeway Drive to Queensway Street
For Hoffman, Menomonee Avenue seems to top the list in terms of roads that are in need of repair.
“That’s the one I get quite a few complaints asking when I’m going to rebuild that roadway,” Hoffman said. “I get a lot of calls on that one.”
What order would you place these roadways in? Would you add others?
“I’d be interested to see what people think are the worst roads in Menomonee Falls,” Hoffman said.
Turning 2s into 10s
Roadwork and maintenance in Menomonee Falls is a never-ending operation for the Engineering Department. Annually, the village spends approximately $2 million to preserve roads. Depending on the rated condition of the road, the village has a protocol for crack filling, applying a slag seal, base patching and replacing curbs and gutters.
Hoffman said they try to target higher rated, or less deteriorated, roads to preserve their integrity longer. That way, the village can target the roads in the red, or those in need of reconstruction.
“One of the things you want to do is keep water out of the pavement. Because if water gets in it will soften the pavements and you get a freeze thaw effect,” Hoffman said. “We have a lot more roads in the red than greens. We try to keep the greens green by doing this maintenance so we have the ability to go attack the reds.”
However, the village is in a continuous battle to stay on top of roads as garbage trucks pulverize the curbs, and freeze and thaw cycles ravage the pavement. Annually, the village can only apply slag seal and asphalt to about 14 total miles of roads.
So by the time workers complete maintenance on the full circuit of village roads every 15 years, they are essentially back to where they started.
Why some roads remain in poor shape
Some of the roads that made the list on Menomonee Falls Patch are slated for reconstruction this summer. However, you may be asking why a road in obvious need of repair sits idle while it continues to look more and more like the back of an alligator.
The answer to that question is not what’s on the surface. It’s what lies beneath.
Hoffman said the condition of the water mains and sewer structures that are beneath the road determine when reconstruction projects begin. Although the road is in terrible shape, it’s not financially sound to reconstruct the road until the village can fund water main and sewer projects beneath.
“Unfortunately, a lot of these roads in the red have water mains underneath them from the 1950s,” Hoffman said. “We can’t really do the road above until we fix the main below.”
Village engineers prioritize water main projects by pinpointing the water mains with the highest number of breaks. The water main underneath Cleveland Avenue has broke 14 times since 2004, and is pegged for reconstruction this summer.