City's street maintenance program posts impressive results

A comprehensive, city-wide residential street maintenance program finished its first year under-budget and repairing more streets than originally planned, according to information provided to Tacoma City Councilmembers during a presentation yesterday at City Hall.
The end-of-year data, which was compiled in a 75-page document that included “before” and “after” photographs of the work completed, shows the city spent approximately $2.1 million to provide overlay and surface treatment repairs on 175 residential blocks. The money was also spent to replace 13 concrete panels, and install 12 sidewalk ramps in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Initially, city staff planned to provide overlay and surface treatment repairs on 161 residential blocks, and install 8 ADA compliant sidewalk ramps.
The city was under-budget by approximately $132,000.
“This [program] is the best way to have a maintenance program that is ongoing,” said interim director of public works Mike Slevin. The residential street restoration program was started in 2007, and is funded by a portion of the Real Estate Excise Tax. It’s aimed to maximize the life of pavement and reduce or eliminate the need for patching potholes. The program added two-inch slurry, chip, and cape seals to worn streets.
There are approximately 1,400 residential blocks in Tacoma.
According to Slevin, city staff focused on residential streets most in need of repair. The city’s South End received the most attention, with 100 blocks repaired last year. Eighty-three blocks were repaired on the Eastside. And 36 blocks were repaired in South Tacoma.
Looking ahead this year, Slevin cautioned that rising prices of oil and asphalt could impact whether the program ends under-budget. The city is projected to provide surface treatment repairs to 156 blocks. According to Slevin, costs have increased from approximately $12,500 per block to approximately $14,000 per block.
“[Last year] was a start-up year,” said streets and grounds maintenance division manager John Gaddis. “Can we do it again in 2008? Cost projections are going up.”
Still, councilmembers were pleased with last year’s results.
“These are dramatic pictures of a project that is making an impact on a shoe-string budget,” said Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma. He asked how the City could share the program’s success with Tacoma residents. The question was posed during a meeting that included six reporters from four different news organizations in attendance, and audio that was broadcast live over TV Tacoma and the Internet.
“I’m happy with what has been done,” said Councilmember Mike Lonergan. “This was something that was neglected for so long. I’m proud to say [to Tacoma residents], ‘If you haven’t had a chance to drive on smooth, paved streets, it’s coming soon to a neighborhood near you.'”