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News Release: Director Treat announces PBOT surpasses Back to Basics goal to preserve 100 miles of streets

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(July 14, 2015) Transportation Director Leah Treat announced today that the Portland Bureau of Transportation surpassed its goal of preserving 100 lane miles of City streets during the budget year that ended June 30.

The 103 miles preserved in fiscal year 2014-15 equals the total miles treated in the prior year, but represents more than double the lane miles of streets preserved in 2012-13.

Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick set the goal of 100 miles of street preservation two years ago and have continued their advocacy for more transportation investment.

“Basic maintenance is a smart investment because it saves money in the long run,” said Novick, who oversees PBOT. “If we spend a little money now to keep roads in good condition, more costly road rebuilds can be prevented and delayed. The Mayor and I set the 100 miles of preservation goal, and I’m glad the transportation bureau is making it an annual tradition to surpass that goal, even with limited resources.”

Treat said that PBOT has its sights set on a third year of preserving 100 miles of streets in fiscal year 2015-16, which started July 1.

“This is no longer an aspirational goal. This is business as usual for the City of Portland,” Treat said. “Portland Progress, the two-year workplan that PBOT adopted in February, makes it clear that street preservation is fundamental to our mission as the steward of the City’s transportation system. Our asset managers pick the right projects to preserve the system. And our maintenance crews work hard and always search for new techniques to get the job done.”

Mayor Hales and Commissioner Novick continue to make maintenance a high priority. They successfully advocated for a budget for 2015-16 includes the largest General Fund investment in transportation in 30 years. The Council approved $20 million more for basic transportation investments, for a total $29 million from the city’s General Fund.

PBOT uses a variety of treatments that help prevent potholes from occurring and save money. A fog seal preventive sealant costs at least $8,500 a lane mile. If PBOT waits for that same street to fall into poor condition, it could cost at least $1 million to $2 million to rebuild.

Crews preserved the 103 lane miles using a variety of street preservation techniques. In 2014-15, PBOT completed a total of 56 lane miles of grinding and repaving the street surface -- work that is mainly conducted on high-traffic streets. Crews treated 44 lane miles with fog seal, a technique used mainly on low-traffic neighborhood streets. On 3 lane miles, workers completed base repairs, in which they dig up, repair and repave badly damaged areas of streets.

A lane mile is one mile of street that is 12-feet wide. In 2015-16, PBOT expects to apply more crack sealing to arterial streets, as a way to extend the life of those streets and avoid more costly rebuilds and repaving projects. At a news conference on North Argyle Street, crews demonstrated how it works.

For every $15 million we invest in preventive maintenance, PBOT estimates the City can avoid at least $50 million a year in future costs.

“We make the most of limited resources by doing the right work, at the right place, at the right time,” Treat said.

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The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the City’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation