Hoping to prevent a repeat of criticisms after the cutting and resurfacing of Carrier Row, Los Alamitos officials set new minimum repair standards for companies that must cut up roadways in the course of their business.
The City Council recently awarded a 15-year water franchise contract to Southern California Water Co., which along with city officials came under fire three years ago by residents in the neighborhood known as Carrier Row, south of Katella Avenue, across from the Los Alamitos Racetrack.
The water company replaced water mains on several streets from Saratoga to Bunker Hill drives in the neighborhood in 1997.
"They replaced water mains in that entire neighborhood," City Manager Robert Dominguez said.
Since many of the new lines were near curbs and center lines in the street, city officials had the company re-coat half of the street with new slurry seal, in addition to merely capping the cut area of the street.
"It appeared that we had half the street new and half of the street old," Dominguez said. "And the perception from the residents was, 'Why did they only do half the street?' "
Another perceived problem, Dominguez said, was the repeated opening and closing of certain sections.
"The water company would backfill [an area] temporarily while they tested the lines before recapping the line," Dominguez said. "In a couple of instances, the line failed. So it began to look to residents, 'Why did they have to do it again?' "
With the franchise, city officials have set new, minimum repair standards for the water company and other businesses that must cut into city streets.
"I'm concerned about the aesthetics and the integrity of the streets," said Councilman Ronald Bates, before the council awarded the new contract. "It looked like gophers had been at work on Carrier Row."
Dominguez said the other prime concern of city officials was the integrity of the street.
"So if we have a street with 15 and 20 years of life left, we don't want to lose two or three years," because of insufficient repair work, he said.
In addition to the minimum standards, city officials have the ability to set standards for each project.
But Councilwoman Alice Jempsa urged caution when setting standards. "Certainly the city should have been monitoring more closely. Certainly the water company should have been monitoring more closely. Certainly the residents did," Jempsa said. "But the [construction] bids will reflect what we ask for."
Chris Ceballos can be reached at (714) 966-7440.