Saturday, October 24, 2015

Council Paves Way to Implement Fugro Street Study

Ruben Williams of Fugro Roadware confessed that last week's presentation was his first to a City Council.  His message was not a surprise to people who've driven San Angelo's streets the last two decades.  Williams said in describing San Angelo's pavement condition index scores:

"This puts the city with not really the best road condition/  This really is not something that happens overnight.  Something with this, it's from decades of deferred maintenance."

"Just to put this into perspective, this is one of the lower scores I have seen."

The study showed San Angelo's major roads are generally in better condition than minor collectors and local streets.  Unfortunately that isn't saying much given the significant amount of work and money it will take to restore deteriorated streets.

"The current funding of $3.5 million would be sufficient if your road network was in the 80's (pavement condition index wise).  You're about half of what I'd recommend as a minimum.  Then with as much focus on preventive if you can and with any excess I recommend doing as many mill and overlay projects as possible."
Fugro's Ruben Williams echoed former City Engineer Clinton Bailey, who introduced the idea of a preventive street maintenance program to City Council in a February 2013 strategic planning session.    Both Bailey and Williams stressed the need for timely intervention that prevents streets from entering a state where they need more costly reconstruction.  Both encouraged adequate funding and making wise decisions that lever those very resources.

Oddly the two men who supervised the abject deterioration of San Angelo's city streets, Executive Director of Public Works Ricky Dickson and Shane Kelton, will be charged with bringing them back.

Consider the minutes from October 21, 2014 when Council approved hiring Fugro:

Operations Director Shane Kelton commented the last study was conducted ten years ago. He informed no funds were budgeted for that particular project study and now have experienced an additional ten years of road repair. 
Ricky Dickson led streets nearly the whole decade in several different roles, most of that with Kelton as his right hand man.  A decade ago this pair had the opportunity to sound the siren on street maintenance.  Neither did.

Ironically Kelton said to council with Fugro's Williams at his side:

"I'm going to be up here every budget season trying to beat you up to give me more money for maintenance."
City Council seemed ready to unlock the vault doors for streets.  Many council members expressed a desire to fund street rehabilitation/reconstruction at the highest level proposed.

Even at the $16 million per year level with $3.5 million in preventive activities San Angelo's roads are projected to continue to deteriorate.  Look at how the orange to red section of the chart below grows from now until 2020.  That's the group of roads needing the most work. 

The $16 million per year hits mostly major roads, leaving untouched the vast majority of San Angelo's bad streets. Over half of the $16 million per year would go toward reconstruction, the most expensive intervention possible.

In discussing funding the city could spend $8 million per year on roads and not raise taxes or impact its bond rating.  Last year council heard borrowing more to fund road rehabilitation could require a tax increase.

Fugro's Ruben Williams gave citizens a state of address on San Angelo's roads.  Nearly everything about it was a deja vu.  The difference was the clarion call for action to begin digging out of our decades dug hole

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