One for the Road

This road had a remaining service life (RSL) of 12 years in 2011. 
Its RSL was extended by two years in 2012 by sealing its cracks, an inexpensive procedure. 
This road had an RSL of 6 years in 2007, requiring a full depth reclamation.
That restored its RSL to 20 years, but at a high cost.
Usually, regular maintenance saves money in the long run. That’s as true about roads as it is about anything else. The longer you wait, the more expensive they are to fix.
Roads typically last about 20 years. As long as their remaining service life (RSL) is 15 years or so, they’re inexpensive to fix–about $.45 per square yard per year. And regular maintenance extends their RSL, keeping them in that easy-to-fix range.
Near the end of their RSL, the cost to fix or replace them goes up exponentially, ultimately reaching $13-19 per square yard per year.
Right now, most of our roads have RSLs of 10-12 years. (Look up the RSLs of the roads in your neighborhood on this map.) According to a recent study, we need about $4 million per year to maintain the status quo. Outside of road bonds, we typically spend about $500,000 per year on maintenance, which clearly isn’t enough. 
The city has been bonding (borrowing) for roads every seven years or so, and the funds get used in the first three or four years. This would be the time to bond again, but I’m suggesting we stop and ask ourselves if that really makes sense. The last road bond was for about $9 million and cost us about $1.8 million in interest. Doesn’t it make more sense to put that toward roads instead of interest?
If you’d like to learn more about the issue and our options, join me tonight, Tuesday, September 25, at 7 p.m., at the City Center, 351 W. Center St. We’re holding a public forum where you can ask questions and give input.
You can also watch this presentation made at a recent council meeting or ready this Daily Herald article from several weeks ago.
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