In the last few months, Kathy Handing and her neighbors at the Townhomes at Prominence in Lake Saint Louis have been plagued by what appears to be street creep. Now, Handing and her neighbors are asking city officials for help.
“Street creep” doesn’t refer to a particular individual who has a personality disorder and lives on a subdivision street. Creep refers to movement and, in this case, it has to do with the movement of street concrete, which expands during hot weather and contracts during cold weather. The result is concrete pushing driveway slabs into home foundations.
The outcome can be devastating.
“Our foundations are beginning to crack,” Handing told the city’s Board of Aldermen at its May 7 meeting.
Alderman Gary Torlina [Ward 1] said he looked at four or five different villas basements and found half-inch or more cracks in foundation walls that could mean losses of $35,000 in property values. Other signs besides cracking that indicate street creep include the floor of a garage pulling away from a wall.
The foundation cracks are a recent occurrence. “I saw it when I went down to get a ladder in the basement and that was like March,” Handing said of the cracks in her home’s foundation. “And it wasn’t as bad as it is now.”
Hairline cracks are also starting to appear.
What causes creep is a bit of an unknown. Derek Koestel, the city’s public works director, said perhaps poor concrete that was laid on subdivision streets throughout the county a few years ago may have contributed. Handing said the villas had four different builders over the years, with some going out of business during the recession and others taking over.
“We’re kind of between a rock and a hard place because the summer heat is coming and it’s going to get much worse on our foundations if this isn’t fixed pretty quickly,” Handing said.
She noted that since 2004 the board has chosen not to pay for street creep damage while other nearby cities, particularly O’Fallon, has been helping their homeowners with repairs. She said she was asking the city for help.
City Administrator Paul Markworth said the city does address street creep when it gets a report.
“We go out right away and see what’s going on,” Markworth said. “If we think the concrete is moving we go out and saw out the joints and put in additional fiberboard.”
In a later interview, Handing said she and other residents still are trying to find out how many villas in the subdivision, located off Prospect Road are affected. Townhomes at Prominence has 22 buildings with 66 units.
“The street creep issue is one that has to be fixed first before we start on our foundation problem,” Handing said. “None of it is covered by insurance, so it’s going to be up to the individuals to put out the money to do the work.”
The number of homeowners identified with foundation issues can affect the cost of foundation repairs; more bids may lessen the cost for each individual.
Lake Saint Louis addresses street creep in much the same way as other cities in St. Charles County by installing a concrete expansion joint that prevents slabs from expanding into each other. An expansion joint is a small strip, several inches wide, that is cut between the street and edge of a driveway.
Street creep is not common in city subdivisions. Markworth sad this is the first report the city has had in several years. He said aldermen in 2004 told the city they didn’t want it doing any work on driveways. “Sometimes we take a look and folks’ driveways aren’t properly constructed,” Markworth said. “That’s another issue.”
That issue and others may be addressed when the board meets on May 21 to discuss street creep in a work session before the regular board meeting.
Alderman Gary Turner [Ward 1] said his subdivision spent money to correct the problem in his neighborhood but his streets are private and not maintained by the city. “The streets [in question] are city streets, so obviously, we provide maintenance when it comes to repairing of the streets and removal of snow,” he said.
What the city does will be up to the board, Markworth said.
“I don’t know how long it will take them [the board] or what their discussion will be. Hopefully, they will be able to tell me more in two weeks and hopefully, I will have more bids on all of the work,” Handing said.