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Council not sold on idea of spending $820K to make sure Del Webb streets stay in good shape
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Streets in the Springtime Estates neighborhood bounded by Highway 99, Louise Avenue and Main Street are in less than stellar condition.

Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu wants Airport Way and Lathrop Road repaired before the city spends $820,000 on a preservative slurry coating to make sure the streets within the Del Webb at Woodbridge neighborhood streets don’t start deteriorating to avoid significantly higher replacement costs down the road.

It is why Cantu thinks the city has its priorities wrong when it comes to its ongoing street maintenance program. On Tuesday he pushed to have money diverted from newer neighborhoods to older neighborhoods such as Shasta Park, Springtime Estates and Mayors Park.

“It looks pretty good right now,” Public Works Director Mark Houghton said of the streets in the Del Webb neighborhood. “The intention of this project is to make sure it stays in that condition for the longest time at the lowest cost,” Houghton said.

Cantu, for his part, said he understood “covering (Del Webb streets) with oil will give it more life but the other subdivisions are dead already. We need to spend some money to bring them back to life.”

The council ultimately decided to hold off on making any decision on the annual pavement maintenance program that this year included the $820,000 for 18 lane miles of streets in the Del Webb neighborhood until staff provides them with an overall review of the city’s street maintenance program. None of the council members with the exception of Debby Moorhead were in office the last time the pavement management program was updated.

Cantu is not the first mayor to question the staff’s rationale. Former Mayor Steve DeBrum did the same thing when the city several years ago  was getting ready to seal coat streets around Woodward Park.

Houghton gave the same explanation to Cantu as he did to DeBrum: Preventative work is significantly less expensive than reconstruction.

Such a strategy was adopted a number of years ago by previous councils — and re-affirmed in 2014 — based on a pavement management update by street pavement experts from Harris & Associates,

The firm surveyed 219 miles of municipal streets in 2014. The survey excluded all streets that had either been put in place or had maintenance done on them within the previous two years. 

The 2014 report concluded Manteca needed to spend $37.5 million by the end of 2019 to prevent 180.14 miles of city streets from deteriorating to a point they need evenly costlier reconstruction. Based on spending since the report was presented, the city has spent at least $25 million less than they needed to do in the past five years simply because they didn’t have the funds.

The report noted “delays in repairs can result in costs increasing as much as 30-fold. In other words, it is not simply ‘pay today or pay tomorrow’ but rather a ‘pay today or pay more tomorrow’ proposition.” Overall pavement maintenance cost is reduced by the timely application of crack seals and slurry seals before the subgrade fails and requires pavement reconstruction.

 The biggest problem is money. The State Department of Finance estimated in 2017 that the new gas tax that went into effect in 2016 would send an additional $417,208 to Manteca in the 2017-2018 fiscal year and $1,251,552 in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. When it is wedded with existing funding levels prior to the 12 cent a gallon gas tax increase as well as Measure K funds, the city has around $2 million a year to spend on neighborhood street road maintenance.

Some of that money from previous years has been set aside to fund projects already planned for Springtime Estates and Mayors Park where major reconstruction work is required. Both are expected to be multi-million dollar undertakings.

On major roads —commercial arterials such as Yosemite Avenue and Main Street — as well as collector streets such as Powers Avenue and Mission Ridge Drive — the city has been seeking federal and/or state funding that becomes available through grants. That is how the $5 million plus work now underway on the Yosemite Avenue and Main Street corridors is being funded.

Before the council decided to have a staff presentation of the science that went into the pavement management program and the establishment of priorities, Cantu added, “I prefer to use the money (the $820,000) where it is needed and not where it is not needed.”

Houghton agreed Lathrop Road and Airport Way “are both in a pretty sad state” and are “ in need of significant investment.”

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email