City Needs $10 Million Annually to Maintain Pavement

Pothole-Sky

Pothole-Sky

Back in 2013, the Davis City Council adopted a funding strategy to allocate roughly $4 million of local funds annually to support pavement maintenance for streets and bike paths. The council will be asked to approve the Draft 2016 Pavement Management Report.

The Pavement Management Program “focuses on a few key factors to provide ‘big picture’ long-term (20-year) forecasts of which streets should be addressed each year, while still requiring some human judgment for refinement on a year-to-year basis.”

According to the city, key factors include “the current condition of the pavement, the street classification (arterials, collectors, local streets), the maintenance treatment strategy (patch repairs, surface seals, overlays and reconstruction to name a few) for each street classification, and the available budget to perform maintenance.”

In the last round of maintenance, 65% went to paving, 28% to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance, and 8% to bike paths. Staff notes that “due to the bid amounts, only 8% of the contract amount went to the bike paths,” and for future work, “Staff will add longer segments of path to resurface so the cumulative percent approaches 15% or higher.”

In 2012, the city surveyed the entire network of streets and bike paths. “In 2015, the City again surveyed the arterials and collectors. City Staff will continue to survey the street and path networks every three years for arterials and collectors (next surveys in 2018 and 2021) and every six years for local streets and bike paths (next surveys in 2018 and 2024).”

PCI-2015

There has also been some discussion about the proper inflation rate for 20-year scenarios. Staff notes, “In the 2012 Pavement Management Report from NCE [Nichols Consulting Engineers, Chtd.], an inflation rate of 8% was used for the 20-year scenarios. This was based on a projected rate for the increase in oil prices according to Caltrans. Since then, the price of oil has decreased. Our consultant NCE recommended using 6% for this report. However, NCE surveyed surrounding municipalities and found that the majority were using 3%. This would give rise to the assumption that they felt the price of oil would continue to decrease from current prices.”

Based on this, NCE was asked to run under both 3% and 6% inflation rates.

Funding Scenarios

Staff notes that only Scenarios 3 and 6 meet the current PCI (Pavement Condition Index) goals. That scenario finds that the city needs to average about $5.1 million per year in order to meet current projections. That would put the city somewhere between $109 and $150 million with a backlog of between $32 and $58 million if these inflation scenarios hold.

However, “When factors are applied for non-pavement allocations, construction contingencies and soft costs that results in an average annual total project budget need of approximately $10M.”

This is two and half times more than the $4 million currently being budgeted. Clearly, even under a revised inflation projection, the city is still in need of additional tax revenues.

In 2013, the council made the following decisions:

  • Budgeting the Program: Since 2008 virtually all of the past Federal funding mechanisms have disappeared with the exception of competitive SACOG grants. Cities must apply for the SACOG grants annually and compete with other cities for a limited amount of money. The submitted projects must show a “complete street” component or other type of enhancement. Pavement maintenance is not typically competitive for grant programs. City Council considered several budgeting options and landed on the one listed in Fiscal Impacts (allocate roughly $4 Million of local funds annually to support pavement maintenance for the City’s streets and multi-use paths).
  • Priority Local Streets: Staff presented a list of local streets that were near parks, schools, commercial districts, and other points of interest. These streets were approved by Council and re-classified in StreetSaver as Collectors.
  • Target PCIs: Staff presented, and Council approved, target PCIs for arterials, collectors and local streets as shown in Pavement Condition Index comparison Table above. Council also directed that the target, average PCI for bike paths should be equal to or greater than the highest PCI in the street classifications (PCI of 68).
  • Pavement Management Scenarios: Many scenarios were presented to Council over the year. The basic conclusions drawn from these scenarios is that it will take more funding than is currently being budgeted to improve the street and path conditions in the next twenty years and that the more funding allocated as early as possible improves the situation versus waiting (as streets approach low PCI levels the likelihood of complete reconstruction increases – a considerably more expensive project).

The 2016 pavement project will continue to attempt to improve the streets. Staff notes that “the PCI goals for arterials and collectors have been met for the next few years but the goals for local streets and bike paths have not. Additionally, during the construction season of 2016, two projects are anticipated to be in construction that will resurface Mace Boulevard (an arterial, CIP 8257), from Montgomery Avenue to Chiles Road; and L Street (a collector, CIP 8256), from Fifth Street to Covell Boulevard. Both of these projects will receive significant funds from SACOG grants (roughly $3.3 million for both projects).”

Staff recommends, due to “the fact that currently the target PCIs for arterials and collectors have been reached and the fact that two arterial and collector streets are being resurfaced in 2016 with SACOG grants,” that the 2016 budget focus on local streets.

Staff continues to receive complaints about their poor condition. “With the exception of east Olive Drive which requires full reconstruction, all of these streets are local streets requiring preventative maintenance treatments.”

Staff will return to council in March to present the final list of local streets and bike paths recommended for the 2016 Pavement Project. “The approximately $4M Council directed investment is making a meaningful difference in the City’s ability to more pro-actively address pavement management. Substantial pavement rehabilitation projects have been accomplished with these funds.”

However, to approach a truly sustainable pavement management system “will require investment of $10M annually.” To get there, the city will need to implement new revenue measures.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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7 Comments

  1. Biddlin

    ” implement new revenue measures.”

    Or bring in new revenue generators. That shouldn’t be an insurmountable challenge, for a vibrant, innovative and flexible city. For you guys, well………

    ;>)/

  2. Anon

    Bottom line (pun intended), the longer we wait to fix the roads, the more expensive will be the fix.  The problem with a utility user tax as a general tax is that there is no guarantee the money will be spent on roads, even if there is an advisory measure that goes along with it.  However, Dan Carson has some suggestions about ways to ensure the UUT is spent as intended in an advisory measure.  But it is not clear to me exactly how that works.  Taxpayers are going to have to be assured the money is going to go towards fixing roads/bike/ped paths, and not just dumped into the General Funds to pay increased employee compensation.

  3. CalAg

    Additionally, during the construction season of 2016, two projects are anticipated to be in construction that will resurface Mace Boulevard (an arterial, CIP 8257), from Montgomery Avenue to Chiles Road; and L Street (a collector, CIP 8256), from Fifth Street to Covell Boulevard. Both of these projects will receive significant funds from SACOG grants (roughly $3.3 million for both projects).”

    I was on this section of Mace Blvd this afternoon, and paid attention to the pavement condition after having read this article in the morning. In my opinion, there are other arterials in town that are in much greater need of repair. As an example in South Davis, Cowell Blvd between Research Park Dr and Poleline Rd is in substantially worse condition.

    This illustrates what is wrong with the roadway improvement debate. It’s not just about how much money the City Council throws at the problem. It’s also about priorities and, more importantly, maximizing the value of the expenditures that are being made (on this later point, I’m not very impressed with some of the work product I see around town, and the inefficient use of labor in roadway construction and maintenance is infamous).

    We can spend $20MM per year and won’t have an acceptable outcome if the City Manger and Public Works Director mismanage the pavement projects. It would be prudent fiscal management for the City Council to commission periodic independent audits on an infrastructure improvement program of this scale.

    1. Robb Davis

      I believe your criticism here is wholly unjustified.  The City is putting $401,411 into this project and receiving over 2 million from SACOG.  This is NOT primarily a pavement improvement project but a project to narrow the street, create a two way cycle track on the east side and improve crossings at Cowell and and at San Marino to make it safer for students to cross Cowell to get to Pioneer more safely.  It is, essentially, a “road diet” that SACOG agreed merited funding to encourage cycling and walking for students and others across a major arterial that clearly does not have to be as wide as it is.  You can criticize that but it was not the current CM that led this proposal.  It was vetted by the BAC and staff and considered worthy of submitting a grant. SACOG decided it was a good project–please criticize them.

      You are correct that the PCI for that section is not dire (65-66 according to the updated pavement study in this week’s packet) but the main point of the expenditure is not to improve the surface.  However, it will be improved and be one less segment to worry about for many years.  The City’s match to this grant seems very reasonable to me.

      1. Matt Williams

        Thank you for that update and clarification Robb.

        The situation that CalAg has described illuminates a very important problem we have in the way that the City accounts for its Revenues and its Costs. We do not discriminate between “Ordinary” funds and “Extraordinary” funds in the fiscal reporting that goes to our citizens. There are lots of reasons that our current reporting method is a problem.

        First, it is easy for citizens like CalAg to come to the mistaken conclusion that she/he described in his/her comment, because the over $2 million of “extraordinary” SACOG Grant funds is commingled with all the rest of the General Fund revenues. When that is done, it is impossible to perform any kind of accountability audit. Citizens like CalAg and myself have to rely on people like you going the extra mile to untangle the confusion … and restore some level of trust to an community that has become extremely distrustful.

        Second, it is easy to jump to the erroneous conclusion that City projects are being funded through “efficient” management of the City’s “ordinary” revenues, and that those “efficiency” funds are going to be available year after year. In fact, both the L Street and Mace Boulevard projects are being funded by almost $3.3M of “extraordinary” SACOG grant funds that the City was awarded the last two SACOG funding cycles. Another $2.1 million of “extraordinary” SACOG grant money covered $1.1 million of the Third Street improvements from A to B Streets. The remaining $1.0 million went to projects completed last Fiscal Year on First Street, Eighth Street and B Street.

        Why is it important to segregate “ordinary” revenues from “extraordinary” revenues? Because “extraordinary” revenues are not reliable. They happen only if the stars are all in the right alignment. SACOG grants are extremely competitive. It is very good news, and a tribute to the staff members who submitted the successful applications, but we only get the money if we are one of the chosen few, and that is not going to happen 100% of the time. It is foolish to bank on unreliable revenue streams.

        The citizens deserve to clearly and transparently see how well the City is managing (and accounting for) its baseline revenues and expenses.

  4. Anon

    Yes, Mayor Pro-Tem Davis makes an important point.  So often Davis roads are repaired depending on what grant money is available from SACOG.  It is crucial for the city to obtain such grant funding whenever possible, and our Dept of Public Works does a great job keeping on the lookout for such grant funding.  However, it does make it confusing to the average citizen, who is unaware of the total fiscal process undertaken to fix the roads.  It might be helpful, when road repairs or other city projects are undertaken, to describe how the funding was arrived at in the Davis Enterprise.  Just a thought, and of course extra work for DPW. 🙂

  5. CalAg

    The pro tem goes to a lot of effort to belabor my misunderstanding of the SACOG project (brought up in a pavement maintenance argument with the statement “will resurface Mace Boulevard” – so you can see how one might be confused) while completely ignoring the main point of my post.

    While I concede the point that the SACOG project is not a good example, my unaddressed concerns remain the same:

    It’s not just about how much money the City Council throws at the problem. It’s also about priorities and, more importantly, maximizing the value of the expenditures that are being made (on this later point, I’m not very impressed with some of the work product I see around town, and the inefficient use of labor in roadway construction and maintenance is infamous).
    We can spend $20MM per year and won’t have an acceptable outcome if the City Manger and Public Works Director mismanage the pavement projects. It would be prudent fiscal management for the City Council to commission periodic independent audits on an infrastructure improvement program of this scale.

    I guess I would also add that just because it’s someone else’s money, that does not make it a good expenditure (particulary if there are much higher priority unmet needs that are not being addressed). The San Marino intersection is a legitimate problem, but I’m skeptical that many Pioneer kids ride to school on Mace. Is this really a $2MM+ problem?

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