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Will streets crumble?

Manteca’s street maintenance staff at 1981 levels

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POSTED September 20, 2009 2:56 a.m.
There’s lean and mean and then there’s the Manteca streets division.

There are nine workers taking care of 191 miles of streets in addition to curb, gutter, and sidewalks. That is the same number of workers on staff in 1981. Manteca is taking care of three times the amount of aging streets without an increase in staffing. The amount of street has gone up 53 miles in the past 10 years.

The city has 15 positions budgeted but is leaving six of them vacant due to the budget deficit.

“Our funding (due to the state taking money each year from local transportation sources) has been getting smaller each year so we prepared for it by not filling positions,” Public Works Director Mark Houghton said.

Fifteen workers would be considered “lean” staffing for maintaining 200 miles of roadway. That is just part of the challenge facing Manteca.

City streets are in danger of slipping in overall quality unless municipal expenditures for pavement maintenance are kicked up by $800,000 a year.

A survey of city streets shows that the 191 total centerline miles of municipal roadways have a pavement condition index of 75.  That means, on average, they’ve got 75 percent of their life expectancy left. That compares to the Bay Area average of 70 percent. Manteca’s better position has a lot to do with the fact most roads here are newer.

Manteca is now spending an average of $500,000 a year on road maintenance projects. But the pavement management study shows that amount needs to be kicked up to $1.3 million annually each year through 2012 just to maintain the current level of quality.

There is a misconception that higher gas prices means more gas taxes are rolling into cities and the state for road maintenance.  The gas tax is stagnant. On top of that, the state has been raiding it regularly to try and balance state budgets.

The result is that for actual significant pavement beyond work covering the basic cost of crews and materials to do routine street maintenance gas tax accounts for only a 20th of what is actually spent for work on existing roads in Manteca during the past 10 years.

Gas tax is used by cities to cover the ongoing cost of crews plus performing work such as filling in potholes. For long-range maintenance, gas tax accounted for $269,907 of the tab during the past decade. Measure K — the half-cent sales tax put in place by San Joaquin County voters for transportation needs — led the way with $2,046,642. The rest came from five other sources.

The study showed that the existing 191 miles of Manteca roads have a replacement value of $79.8 million.

The 191-centerline miles include 32 miles of arterials, 26 miles of collectors, and 133 miles of collector streets.

The study indicated that some of the worst pavement in Manteca can be found on Button Avenue, East Wetmore, East North Street, North Main just south of Lathrop Road, Airport Way north of Louise Avenue and South Union between the 120 Bypass and Atherton Drive.

Major projects
still going forward

There are three major street rehabilitation projects going forward in the coming months despite the general fund budget crunch.

That’s because the money that funds them is restricted for that purpose only.

East Yosemite Avenue between Cottage Avenue and a point mid-way between Commerce Drive and the Highway 99 interchange will be resurfaced.

West Yosemite Avenue between Union Road and Kaiser Hospital also will be resurfaced.

Moffat Boulevard, behind the eastern edge of the Manteca Commerce Park east of the Highway 120 Bypass overcrossing to Austin Road will go through a major overhaul. It involves grinding concrete laid for the original Highway 99 route and removing asphalt placed over the top of concrete through the years.

It will eliminate the lifting of asphalt that results in the click-clack sound when you drive over it. It is similar to the work done on North Main Street (which also was part of the old Highway 99) and much of Yosemite Avenue (which was the old Highway 120 route).

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail dwyatt@mantecabulleitn.com





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