City government

Davis roads need costly repairs, soon

By From page A1 | December 11, 2013

The City Council soon will be asked to take the plunge and fork over tens of millions of dollars to pay for Davis’ deteriorating roads and bike paths.

Due to inaction by previous councils — over the past 10 years the city has spent $12 million total on transportation infrastructure  — and the stark realization that further delays could lead to a backlog of more than a half a billion dollars in road maintenance costs, council members really have no choice at this point.

“It’s not great, but it’s what we have to deal with,” said City Manager Steve Pinkerton. “I don’t think any of us want to deal with that map of all red streets in 2025,” he added, referring to pavement condition ratings.

Pinkerton and the city’s pavement consultants, who will guide the city as it tackles road and bike path work in Davis, were in front of the council Tuesday for the fifth time this year to bring them up to speed on the status of the funding and maintenance strategy.

All signs appear to point to the city spending $25 million over the next two budget cycles to get a head start on the work before the costs of oil, asphalt and labor really spiral out of control. The funding likely will come from loans.

Further, the longer the city waits to fix the roads, the more costly the work becomes. For simple pavement overlay fixes, it can cost about $4 per square yard. For reconstruction of that same square yard that’s been allowed to fail, it could cost $80.

“Over the last year we’ve learned that the city of Davis’ pavement condition is at a critical juncture,” said Michael Mitchell, the city’s principal civil engineer. “Spending more money up front saves more money in the long run and that waiting will be more expensive as the pavement condition continues to (deteriorate).”

But even with the large injection of cash up front, in budgets for years to come the city will have to scrounge up considerably more funding than in the past, just to keep the roads in manageable condition.

If the council spends $25 million over the next two years, and the city continues to spend $2 million per year for the next 20 years after that, Davis still will face a backlog of $250 million by 2032, according to the city’s consultant, Nichols Consulting Engineers. On top of that, the average pavement condition index for roads in Davis, which currently sits at 61, would drop to 37.

Only spending $2 million per year, the council learned, may not be enough.

“We’re going to be strongly recommending next week that we find a way to fund infrastructure at a $2 (million) to $4 million level with the hope that we can consider some front-loading of that,” Pinkerton said, reminding the council of the mid-year budget discussion it will hold next Tuesday.

Those extra costs, meanwhile, could force the council to ask voters to approve a parcel tax that would set aside funding every year to pay for road and bike path pavement maintenance. Pinkerton added that he hopes the state and federal governments also will send dollars Davis’ way to help out with the costs.

WPA restrooms

Those in favor of and opposed to knocking down the old Works Progress Administration restroom building in Central Park were granted their final say Tuesday, but the council held off on making a decision.

Due to a work conflict, Councilman Brett Lee had to leave the meeting before the council could deliberate, and the council chose to table the item until next week.

Under the city’s Central Park Master Plan — which, in two phases, renovates several aspects of the popular downtown park — the restroom facility in question would be demolished.

That issue has become divisive in the community, however, as volunteers with the Hattie Weber Museum believe the building holds historic importance, as it’s the last remaining WPA building in town. Hattie Weber officials also would like to use the facility as storage for the museum.

Others, however, including Randii MacNear, manager of the Davis Farmers Market, would like to see the building torn down because of its uncleanliness and its history of breeding criminal activity at night.

“I think it’s time to give back to the community, who for so long has tolerated the abyss and the situation of this building,” MacNear said.

The council plans to make a final decision on the matter Tuesday.

— Reach Tom Sakash at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash

Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected], (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.
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