May 16, 2001 11:00 pm

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

The potholes you drive on in La Grande will get a more permanent fix this year.

Thats because city crews will be putting in more time and using a different method of patching this summer.

Crews will start with the potholes in the main business district but some of the worst ones in the residential area will get fixed, too, said Public Works Director Dan Chevalier.

We will do a lot of patching potholes and wheel ruts, mainly in the arterial streets, Chevalier said.

It involves a lot of grinding with a machine. Well cut, then grind out big cracks, potholes and wheel ruts. Were going to patch them instead of just throwing in a

little mix.

Old material is removed by grinding down about a half-inch into the second surface, which is below the main asphalt layer, he said.

Well fix that, then put on an overlay of 1 to 2 inches. We hope it will be more permanent. Well see if this works. Were going to try it anyway, Chevalier said.

It costs more, not only because of the time involved by city crews, but because of the expense of renting the grinding machine, Chevalier said.

For that reason, potholes in residential areas may not get much attention this year.

Well have to look at our expenses as we go along, he said.

The city has two major paving projects for the summer.

One involves improvements to sections of Cove Avenue and Albany Street at a cost of $1.3 million. The second is the overlay of Fourth Street from the public library at Penn Avenue almost to Adams Avenue. That project will end adjacent to the alley behind City Hall. It will cost almost $88,000.

The city and utility companies have been installing utilities underground on Cove Avenue, which accounts for the torn up roadway making driving hazardous, but the major aspect of the project wont begin until about mid-June, said City Engineering Superintendent Norman Paullus.

Expected to be completed by Nov. 1, the project which runs from Portland Street to the Interstate 84 overpass will have two lanes, plus westbound right turns onto Portland and Albany streets. There will be sidewalks on both sides, two bike lanes and planters with trees.

The citys share of the project, which comes from the $8 monthly fee residents pay, will be about $234,000, Paullus said. About $900,000 is federal money.

In two or three weeks, city crews should start on the Fourth Street project, beginning with leveling out a hump in the road at Penn Avenue, where the surface will be totally excavated.

The project, paid for with $20,000 in street user fees and $60,000 in federal money, involves grinding out the rutted areas, installing a Geotech fiber matting designed to help prevent water infiltration, which causes cracks in the roadway. The overlay will be about 2 inches thick, Paullus said.

By July the city hopes to start paving Misty Loop, off 26th Street, which is funded by a local improvement district formed by the owner, the Northeast Oregon Housing Authority. That is a $250,000 project. It includes putting in water and sewer lines, curbs and sidewalks.

A $170,000 LID on 22nd Street between R Avenue and Penn, funded by residents, will be delayed until next year because of so much construction elsewhere in the area. Paullus said.