Overview of current road funding and conditions

ZACH FRIEND SANTA CRUZ COUNTY SUPERVISOR

The Board of Supervisors recently received an overview of the condition of local roads, including a scoring measure called the Pavement Condition Index (PCI). The PCI is a score from 0-100 that gives you a sense of the condition of local roads — from failed to very good/new. A score of over 70 is considered good and is significantly less expensive to maintain than a road that has fallen to an at-risk, poor or failed category. Here is an overview of our local roads, the costs to maintain them, their current conditions and funding mechanisms that are in place to address them.

How large is the road network?
There are approximately 600 centerline miles in the unincorporated county. Centerline miles represent the total length of a given road from its starting point to its end point. Just to put it in perspective, this is about the same distance as driving from Watsonville to Vancouver, Canada.

What are the current conditions of our roads?

Roads have different designations — such as arterials, collectors and local roads. An example of an arterial road would be Soquel or Freedom Boulevard. Collectors would include Sumner or Clubhouse and local roads are the roads you most likely live on (residential roads). The Pavement Condition Index for arterials in the unincorporated county is 64. The PCI for collectors is 54 while the PCI for local/residential roads is the lowest at 40.

What does it cost to maintain or repair the roads?

While construction costs are constantly fluctuating, one thing that is constant is that it’s much cheaper to maintain a road in good condition than to repair and rebuild a road in poor condition. According to Public Works, here are the costs per mile for doing road work on a road in good, fair, poor and failed condition.

For a road in good condition, to do a single layer seal with no digouts, it costs approximately $141,000 per mile. For a road in fair condition (with a PCI somewhere in the 50-70 range, for example), it would cost about $352,000 per mile for a multilayer seal with digout work. This is the average range for our arterial roads.

For a road in poor condition, $563,000 per mile and includes a full overlay and digouts. Many of our local roads and some of our collectors fall into this category. For a road in failed condition, which includes many roads in the rural areas (including the Aptos hills) as well as some of the agricultural areas in Corralitos and some local/residential roads the cost for full reconstruction is close to $1.1 million per/mile.

What are the current funding mechanisms?

For the 2nd District, which I represent, Measure D funding (depending upon how sales taxes do in a given year) may bring in approximately $900,000/year for local roads. This is a significant infusion that wasn’t available before its passage. As you can see on the cost for road work above, it makes it hard to do reconstruction work on failed roads but it does help improve roads that are at-risk or improve roads that are in poor condition. This past year a number of roads in La Selva were done via Measure D funding. Measure D (county-wide) is anticipated to bring in about $2.7 million in funding.

While SB 1 (gas tax) funding is currently being used for major storm damage repairs, at its peak in a few years it’s estimated to bring in about $4 million in new money to the entire unincorporated area. Additionally, the county averages at least $1 million/year in state and federal grant funding and more funds come from a refuse vehicle impact fee and more. Overall, it’s estimated that about $8 million per year on average will be brought in for the 600 centerline miles of road. According to Public Works there are currently about $267 million in needs for the local roads, which will grow as some roads have conditions that are worsening.

If you have a pothole or non-emergency road issue, you can submit service requests through the county’s free mobile app, Citizen Connect, available on the app store or Google Play, online via the Public Works Department’s website (found via www.santacruzcounty.us) or by calling 454-2160.

As always, if you have any questions about this or any other issue please feel free to contact me at 454-2200.

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