In October 2004, Sonny's Solid Waste asked city officials to consider ending alley pickup for trash and having all pickups occur from front curbs due to the poor condition of Sikeston's alleys.
After hearing requests from citizens, City Council members ultimately decided to keep alley pickup sites but promised to have the street division bring the alleys up to a higher standard.
"We have spent considerable time and money over the last 16 months or so identifying and fixing alleys that are problems so that not only the service trucks can go down the alleys, but the citizens who use them have a better driving surface as well," said City Manager Doug Friend.
The stepped-up alley maintenance is now just a regular part of the street division's routine, according to Steve Lee, street superintendent.
"We've got a standard maintenance schedule that we go by," he said. "We try to work in the alleys where needed at least one day per week. We use two separate crews when we go in."
The new efforts and materials for alleys "make them more passable for every utility that uses them, including ourselves," Lee said.
Since February 2005, city street division crews have used chat gravel to fill potholes in alleyways. The city previously used asphalt millings.
"Placing the chat in these alleys instead of millings is working well - it's really holding up a lot better in the low spots," Lee said. "We have seen improvements and heard a lot of compliments from individuals."
Lee said approximately 550 tons of chat were used on Sikeston's alleys over the last year at an estimated cost of $6,500. "Really, the man hours are spent working on the streets and alleys anyway," he said. "The hours spent haven't changed."
Friend agreed that feedback from the communtiy regarding the alleys has been positive lately.
"Generally, we've had a very positive response from the public," he said. "I haven't had any complaints."
While a spokesman for Sonny's Solid Waste was not available by press time, Lee said the company has reportedly been pleased with the city's use of chat.
Lee said the street division stays in contact with Sonny's "and they let us know if there's a spot that needs attention, and that helps us."
The current two-year solid waste pickup contract with Sonny's Solid Waste ends Dec. 31.