Last Tuesday, on consent, council was asked to approve a list of streets that the city would be funded by the state to repair. On Friday, Alan Pryor submitted a guest commentary objecting to what he saw as an “arbitrary process.”
His chief complaints were that the list of streets were in his words “prepared solely by the City’s Public Works Department and not ever vetted by the Bicycle, Transportation, and Street Safety Commission (BT&SSC) nor by the Finance and Budget Commission (F&BC) nor was there any indication in Staff’s Report that these streets selected were in any worse state of disrepair than other neighborhood streets or major arterial roadways in town.”
The Vanguard received some feedback from the city, which wished to clarify the process as to how they made the street selection for road repair and rehabilitation.
City Engineer Dianna Jensen explained that the city hires a consultant every three years in order to conduct a survey of streets and bike paths using the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) survey protocol.
For the past 20 years, the city has used StreetSaver software, a decision-support tool.
Staff has coordinated with the consultant NCE to create a decision tree for its maintenance and rehabilitation (M&R) strategies. This, they say, helps to determine the street “for each street classification and bike path, based on best practices, past experience, and funding.”
These are then entered into the database prior to entering survey data, and “[o]nce entered into the database, the survey data is used to calculate a Pavement Condition Index (PCI), which is used to indicate the average general condition of a pavement area based on distresses observed during the condition survey.”
PCI is an index between 0 and 100, which indicates the general condition of pavement, with 100 as the best and 0 as the worst.
All of this was described in the January 20, 2020, staff report where the council created a subcommittee to work with staff on the assumptions of the model and looking toward funding options to rehab the city’s pavement.
Dianna Jensen reported, “We have been meeting every two weeks and making progress on evaluating the assumptions.”
Part of the current strategy includes “recyclable and cost-effective treatments.” Staff notes, “The decision trees include fully-loaded project costs including an additional 35 percent for contingency, design, construction management, inspection, and materials testing.”
Alan Pryor, in his piece, noted that “since the list to be sent to the State was not due until May 1, there was ample time for the consideration of the list of selected streets for repair by the appropriate Commissions prior to the submission deadline.”
But, as Dianna Jensen pointed out in her response to the Vanguard, “while the SB1 money has been designated for the road rehab project, there are other funding sources that support road rehab as well such as construction tax and impact fees.”
Indeed, the project funding sources show that the council this coming fiscal year will have just over $5 million at its disposal—only $1.13 million of which would come from SB 1.
That is critical to understand because it means that the number of streets are far broader than the list as described in the staff report from last Tuesday.
The bigger problem that the city faces is that the money available is insufficient for city needs.
Staff noted on January 20: “In order to reach the target PCI values set by City Council in 2013 (68 for arterials, 65 for collectors, 60 for residential/local streets and 68 for bike/multi-use paths), the analyses indicates that the City needs to spend approximately $7.9 million per year on streets and $3.9 million per year on bike paths over the next 10 years.”
Alan Pryor is critical in his letter to council—attached to his article: “Staff provides absolutely no guidance on this subject other than it was stated that these selected streets were otherwise scheduled for repair in the 20-21 fiscal year. Additionally, these recommended rehabilitation projects have never gone to the Bicycle, Transportation, and Street Safety Commission (BT&SSC) for review nor to the Finance and Budget Commission for consideration. For all the public and the Commissions know, the areas selected by Staff where chosen by the old dart and a dart board method.”
However, Dianna Jensen responded, “The street selection process is one that has been thought through and approved by Council. Because of this, the actual streets that are selected are not brought before the BTSSC.”
The March 24 staff report makes reference to little of this. It only notes: “The projected amount of Davis’ apportionment of SB1 funding for FY 2020/21, including the Loan Repayment, is estimated at $1,317,565.”
It makes no discussion as to where those decisions were made, the process by which they were made, nor was it clear from that staff report that there would be other money and thus other roads selected.
In addition, because the city is rolling this out a bit piecemeal, there is little ability for the public or the council to weigh the repairs funded in totality.
By doing this, no one can evaluate whether these are the best or most needed repair options. It is clear from the January 20 staff report that there is a process and the subcommittee that was created will evaluate it—however, it might be helpful for the entire process to have been laid out in the staff report and the entire array of streets rolled out at one time in order for both the council and city to make the best decision.
—David M. Greenwald reporting