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MURPHYSBORO — A project to try a new street preservation process on 20th Street apparently left mixed and bad reactions with the Murphysboro City Council, whose members voted to pay half of the contractor's invoice.

The work was done late last year by Illini Asphalt, which used the street preservation process that provides a less expensive alternative than asphalt, a company operations manager said. The manager said the process was an Illinois Department of Transportation-approved process that his company had used in other road projects, including in two other cities in Jackson County.

The company filed an invoice with the city for $8,000 and agreed to a $500 concession after Mayor Will Stephens approached them with concerns about the excess sweeping-up of residue from the project.

Stephens said he was told the company encountered several problems, including equipment that didn't work well that day; he told the council that a worker with the company used a mallet to ensure the product dropped from the machine onto the roadway.

"At the end of the day, Illini Asphalt didn't come into town obviously hoping to have a bad day," Stephens said. "But they did. But the product is down, it's imperfect, but it has sealed the road. I think that we ought to pay them something. It's just a matter of whether the city council wants to accept their $500 concession on this bill or if you would rather us ask for further concession."

Councilwoman Barb Hughes asked why the company didn't just decide to do the work another day as they encountered problems.

"Essentially, they've got this oil and process heated up and ready to go to do it then, and then they've got to take that oil and just dump it somewhere on the ground and that's a loss," Stephens said.

Alderman Dan Bratton said 35 years of contracting work led him to know that the work was not what either party expected. He suggested that the city pay half for the work, $4,000 of the invoiced $8,000, a notion that the alderman approved 6-0. Four of the aldermen were absent due to illness.

The project left a great deal of cinder seal material on 20th Street, what operations manager David Krueger said was wet-bottom boiler slag. He said clean-up of that material — which one official estimated was about 6 to 7 tons worth — was not part of the agreement; he also said traffic control and striping were also not to be covered in Illini Asphalt's $8,000 invoice.

On Wednesday afternoon, Krueger said that other than concerns about the excess cleanup, he had not heard any complaints about the project.

Stephens said the city could "sort of reuse" the materials for cinder seal and salt spreading for winter weather road conditions.

There was no written contract, but an oral agreement.

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Stephanie Esters is a reporter covering Jackson and Union counties.

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