Sustained focus on roads is key
City councilors' decision on Nov. 20 to dedicate increases in right-of-way revenues to pavement preservation provides the means to getting our roads up to standard. Why is that important?
When roads are up to standard, quality of life increases and ongoing maintenance expenses decrease. Maintaining our roads means using an integrated approach, so when appropriate, roadwork includes sidewalks, pathways, water lines, sewer lines and surface water run-off.
How has the City been doing on road maintenance? Pretty well, but it is not enough.
Since 2002, the City has been tracking its progress through a measure called the Pavement Condition Index (PCI). The PCI is a metric between 1 and 100 of the overall average road status. Thanks to continual focus, not only has the PCI decline since 2002 been slowed, but it has been reversed.
In 2002, Lake Oswego's PCI was 76; it declined to 64 in 2013 before improving to 68 in 2016. The next report is due in 2019. The PCI goal is the mid-80s. To continue progress and minimize losing ground, sustained focus is needed. Funding is important, and the need for sustained focus is critical.
The City categorizes roads as Good, Fair, Poor and Very Poor. At the budgeted/projected investment level over the next five years, despite progress made, the PCI will likely decline and deferred road maintenance will likely increase as more streets fall into the Poor and Very Poor categories. Without increased and sustained maintenance/rebuilding expenditures, roads will deteriorate.
To reduce the deferred maintenance backlog, additional expenditures above the five-year amounts currently budgeted/projected in the Capital Investment Program are required. Unless additional expenditures are allocated to support an increase in the City's projected road maintenance and street rehabilitation, the City may lose the opportunity to utilize lower-cost preventative maintenance and light overlay treatments. Treated early, a street will remain at a Good level for longer periods of time.
The 2016 PCI report showed an $80 million requirement, not including another $15 million for roads inside the urban service territory but not inside city limits. How do we get to $80 million over 10 years?
-- The current CIP shows $28 million in pavement preservation over the next five years. Maintaining that level of support over 10 years is $56 million.
-- The 2017 Oregon transportation package will provide additional funds to the City. The council has committed to securitizing those projected funds, with a margin of safety, to be dedicated to roads. Between $9 million and $11 million will arrive in 2019/2020.
-- The Clackamas County Commission is likely to establish a vehicle registration fee. At $25 per car per year, the total over 10 years would be an additional $6 million for the City.
-- The increase in franchise fees dedicated to pavement preservation over 10 years should be about $7 million.
The total over 10 years: $78 million to $80 million, which is close enough for a 10-year estimate.
There is nuance in looking at infrastructure. Hence, a sustained long-term focus on roads matters. Otherwise, progress made is for naught. Can the City maintain a narrow and deep focus over an extended period of time? To have a first-rate quality of life and infrastructure, the City must do so.
Jeff Gudman is a former Lake Oswego city councilor. This Citizen's View is a reflection of his own views and not necessarily those of the council.