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West side project on track to meet November deadline

On Friday, Sept. 20, staff with Lawn and Driveway Service put down fertilizer and mulch on the boulevard of Nevada Avenue. Staff will continue seeding the area through September, and finish up with any remaining space next spring.

With about five weeks to go, Morris’ 2013 road improvement project on the west side remains on schedule to be finished by the beginning of November.

Phase one of the project, Ninth Street between Park Avenue and Pacific Avenue and Idaho and Nevada Avenues between Eighth Street and Ninth Street, is complete, with one layer of blacktop down for the winter. On Thursday, crews began laying blacktop over phase two of the project, 10th Street from Park Avenue to Pacific Avenue and Idaho and Nevada Avenues from Ninth Street to 10th Street.

City Inspecting Engineer Jay Fier, who is overseeing the project for the city, said crews will wait to lay the second layer of blacktop until next summer to give the road time to settle.

“We’ll find out, as this road is used until like the end of June, where the problems are,” said Fier. “We might have some places where it breaks, we might have some places where it settles – we’ll cut those out, fix those, get them back up to snuff and put the second lift on.”

Now that the underground work is finished in phase three, 11th Street and the rest of Idaho and Nevada Avenues, roads in that area will need to be rebuilt and the curbs and gutters will need to be installed before it can be paved ahead of the Nov. 1 deadline.

“If the weather holds us and we don’t have any major equipment breakdowns or mental lapses, I think we can do it,” said Fier.

One of the most visible aspect of the project so far is the grading and grass seeding for the boulevards in the project area.  

“All that most homeowners see is their lawn,” said Vicky Dosdall, owner of Lawn and Driveway Service. “That’s the one thing they’re concerned about, that they have their lawn back again.”

Dosdall’s company is the subcontractor hired to work on the seeding for the project. The company started tilling and seeding the boulevards in phase one of the project beginning on Sept. 17.

Dosdall said she planned to continue seeding, weather permitting, through the end of September. After that, temperatures will be too cool for the grass to develop enough growth before it freezes.

Throughout the project, the grass seeds are drill seeded into the soil, followed by an organic fertilizer and a hydromulch to help keep moisture in the ground and prevent erosion.  

“Anything that we don’t get seeded will get a hydromulch on top to tack it down so it doesn’t wash out into the street,” Dosdall said. “In the spring, we’ll work it up, seed it, and re-mulch it.”

One area of the project – Nevada Avenue between Eighth Street and Ninth Street – was selected as a demonstration site for a new type of organic fertilizer, Biotic Earth.  

“This is to help supplement and add more nutrients to the soil to create a better seed bed,” said Dosdall. If the project works well, there should be thicker grass growth through that area as early as this fall.

Joel Peterson, a sales representative with Erosion Control Blanket, said the product is a blend of peat moss, straw and flax fibers and fungal mycorrhizae and is designed for areas that have poor soil health or lacks a variety of organic materials.

“When we go in and do construction, we typically destroy all of the fungal and bacterial activity in the soils … what we’re doing is putting organic matter back into the surface of our soil” to help kickstart soil rehabilitation, said Peterson.

Another way to encourage strong grass growth throughout the area is to be careful when mowing using a sharp. raised blade, Dosdall said.

“A dull blade will pull at the root structure, like a vacuum cleaner to a scatter rug,” said Dosdall.