TUESDAY, MAY 28, 2013 -- Preventive maintenance and road repair would resume on neighborhood streets under a policy shift the Portland City Council will consider on Wednesday, May 29.
The Council will consider a resolution authorizing the Portland Bureau of Transportation to resume paving and maintenance work on city-owned and -maintained local streets. It would rescind a 2009 resolution that stopped local streets work and instead directed the bureau to focus its limited dollars exclusively on repaving arterial and collector roads.
“We could no longer neglect neighborhood streets where the majority of Portlanders live,” Mayor Charlie Hales said. “The new policy means paving and road work will be designed to deliver the highest value on all Portland streets, on both neighborhood streets and more heavily used arterials.”
The new policy affects the two-thirds of Portland’s street system that is classified as local and paved, the lower-trafficked streets where the majority of Portlanders live. Under the new policy, the bureau will prioritize repairing streets that are within one-quarter mile of a school as well as streets that are classified as neighborhood greenways.
The bureau estimates it will repair about 50 miles of local streets this year, in addition to maintaining the more heavily trafficked arterials and collector streets.
All repair work will prioritize preventive maintenance and restoration of streets in fair condition over rebuilding heavily deteriorated streets, a more cost effective approach than focusing on roads that have deteriorated to the point where they need to be completely rebuilt. Rebuilding heavily deteriorated roads costs ten times as much as renovating streets in fair or better condition and preventing their deterioration, the bureau has determined under its Pavement Management System.
The new policy follows the recommendations in a February report by the Office of the City Auditor: Street Pavement: Condition shows need for better stewardship, (see below) which recommended rescinding the 2009 resolution, as well as taking other steps that the bureau is implementing.
Paving Policy Gives City Poor Grades
TUESDAY, FEB. 19 – An audit released this week by the city of Portland finds a massive hole in the city’s spending to pave streets.
“This audit is incendiary. It’s a wake-up call,” said Mayor Charlie Hales. “It costs far less to maintain streets in good condition than it costs to restore neglected streets. As much as 10 times more. We have to act now.”
The city’s independent auditor, LaVonne Griffin-Valade, set the tone for the audit, calling the city’s streets, “Portland’s most valuable asset group at $5 billion in replacement costs” and adding, “The audit found that the city has not adequately protected the condition of street pavement.”
The audit showed that 44 percent of Portland’s streets are in “poor” to “very poor” condition. An estimated $10 million per year is being spent to repair streets, but the audit calls for an additional $75 million, for a total of $85 million per year.
Hales said he will call upon the City Council to address the problem and to make it a priority for the 2013-14 budget, which is being debated now.
The mayor said he will craft a proposal that would:
• Create a transportation strategy with clear-cut goals and objectives.
• Change the prioritization from a “Worst First” policy – in which streets are allowed to deteriorate before receiving attention – to using the new Street Saver technology to help prioritize the order of street maintenance to both prevent this from happening in the future and continue to rehabilitate our worst streets.
• Provide annual estimates of future costs associated with street maintenance.
Upon taking office in January, Hales announced that Toby Widmer would come out of retirement to serve as interim director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. Widmer will serve for six months while the city conducts a nationwide search for a transportation director.
Widmer’s background is in street maintenance. He retired from the city of Portlandin June 2002 after approximately 28 years in service.
“Toby came up through the ranks,” Hales said. “He was driving trucks and laying asphalt. He understands that street maintenance is his first priority.”