City of Lincoln Public Works/Utilities
Street Maintenance Operations
In the unpaved alley maintenance program, we currently maintain 1,095 blocks of maintained alleys. Our routine scheduled unpaved alley maintenance is an ongoing operation starting in late March or early April and continuing through November. During this time, most of our alleys are inspected and graded approximately twice. However, the frequency of grading varies, depending on the grade of an alley, the volume of traffic that uses the alley, the occurrence of rainfall, the amount and intensity. Adding all of these factors it becomes our second operational procedure, a service request. Usually a service request is from one of the abutting property owners and is handled through an inspection by a section supervisor or manager. Once the location is inspected and conditions warrant maintenance, a grader is sent out. This is usually within a week from the time of request. Grading and rocking requests can be made by calling Street Maintenance, Engineering Services, or by going on-line to the City of Lincoln Action Center.
Whether it is routine maintenance or a service request to grade an alley, it is normally graded in the same manner. The operator loosens the surface material with his cutting blade. Once the material is loose the operator works it from side to side filling all voids and reestablishing a smooth and drainable surface. On occasion it becomes necessary to add fill material, usually clay dirt or asphalt grindings. When adding this material, the operator will wind-row the surface material to one side, place the clay or asphalt grindings where they are needed, then proceed with re-establishing the finished surface.
In our alley maintenance program, we also provide ¾" limestone rock at a minimal cost to adjoining property owners. Rock can be added any time during the season, either to the entire alley or areas adjacent to individual lots. A standard 300' alley needing a 1 ½" to 2" cover will require approximately five ton for each 50'. The price for rock to property owners is determined by an annual bid for granule material, which is handled through the Purchasing Department. Property owners can pay either individually or collectively, however payment is required prior to placement. The City absorbs the additional cost, trucking and spreading, in our Streets and Highways budget.
The City also has numerous platted unimproved alleys throughout the community. Most of these alleys have little or no travel on them and serve primarily as a common access between adjoining properties. The process for changing the status of an alley from platted unimproved to maintained begins with an informal request letter to the City Clerk's office. The request will be reviewed to determine if the alley meets the criteria for the creation of Grading and Graveling Districts. Should the platted alley lack sufficient area to facilitate opening, an Improvement District will also be required to acquire additional area from the abutting properties. If the reviews find the situation appropriate for these Districts, the request will be presented to the City Council to make the final decision on the request. After City Council approval, the work is done by private contractors and the costs are assessed to the benefitted properties. Upon approval of the work by Engineering Services staff, maintenance of the alley will become the responsibility of the Street Maintenance Operations section of Public Works.
One final note on unpaved alleys: whether the alley is maintained or unimproved, the property owners abutting a platted alley may petition to have the alley vacated as provided for in Section 14.20 of the Lincoln Municipal Code. This will require the approval of 100% of the abutting property owners and the willingness of these owners to purchase the section of alley behind their property. When vacated, the alleys are usually split down the centerline, and are subject to easements that may need to be retained for existing or planned utilities. Alley vacations must be approved by the Planning Commission and the City Council.