Springtime Estates later this year will become the first neighborhood to have street pavers in place of traditional asphalt in Manteca.
It’s something that Councilman Gary Singh wouldn’t mind seeing being explored as an option for new developments as a way of reducing ongoing taxpayer costs, avoiding the creation of cracks, allowing for the street to be “seamlessly” restored after emergency utility repairs, and for a longer overall life.
“They can also make a neighborhood look classier,” Singh said when compared to asphalt that within several years can look dingy and tired.
Mayor Ben Cantu sees things differently. He sees it as a “cheap way” for the city to try and save money, contends they make it impossible to travel at high speeds, and are inappropriate to use on residential or heavily traveled streets unless they are incorporated into a downtown design where the city would want traffic to slow down.
The Manteca City Council last year directed Public Works Director Mark Houghton to employ pavers in the rehabilitation of streets in the mid-1980s era Springtime Estates neighborhood bordered by Louise Avenue on the south, Highway 99 on the east, a vacant parcel to the north and the North Main Street SaveMart store and center on the west.
Most of the streets in Springtime Estates need to be replaced instead of simply resurfaced or seal coated. That’s because city engineers discovered none of the streets when they were installd more than 30 years ago had a base put in place.
“It wasn’t uncommon for cities in the valley to do that (not put a base in place) back then where there was a lot of sandy loam soil like Manteca has,” Houghton said.
The lack of a base, however, has contributed to the deplorable condition of the Springtime Estates streets where grass often grows through wide gaps in the asphalt.
That made Springtime Estates a logical candidate for the first use of modern street pavers in Manteca.
The plan is to use pavers to surface the entrance streets and those around the park that are the heaviest traveled.
Cantu said the fact the city is referring to it “as a test” and it would save the city money in the long run has prompted him to be less than enthusiastic about the idea.
“He (Houghton) and I won’t be around in 50 years to see how well the test came out,” Cantu said.
The use of street pavers in residential neighborhoods is nothing new in Ripon. There was a period before the Great Recession hit in 2008 that the City of Ripon required builders of new neighborhoods to use pavers instead of traditional asphalt to reduce long-term maintenance costs to city taxpayers.
Street maintenance is a major financial issue as almost every city in California is experiencing major backlog of work that needs to be done to address deteriorating pavement.
While asphalt or concrete is less expensive to install — $45 per square yard as opposed to concrete pavers at $68 per yard — over an equal life cycle the asphalt approach Manteca currently uses is significantly higher. The long-term maintenance costs for asphalt or concrete is $66 a square yard as opposed to $12 for concrete pavers.
That means over the same time period, it costs a city $80 a square yard to install and maintain interlocking concrete pavers as opposed to $111 for asphalt or traditional concrete pavement the $31 per square yard savings is significant given Manteca currently has 461 lane miles of streets that it is struggling to find adequate funding to maintain.
The cost savings was the driving force behnind elected leaders in Ripon adopting interlocking concrete pavement as a roadway standard for1.3 million square feet of new residential streets constructed between 2005 and 2008. The higher cost of the pavers was transferred to buyers of new homes.
Ripon also employed pavers downtown to not just reduce long-term costs but to promote aesthetics. The visual advantage goes beyond the installation. Should utility lines have to be accessed pavers can be taken out and put back in place without creating non-matching asphalt or uneven surfaces. If for some reason a pothole develops, the impacted pavers are removed and replaced with new ones avoiding a patchwork look.
With 5,555 square yards of pavers on downtown Ripon streets, that city will avoid $172,222 in maintenance costs over the life cycle of the streets.
Pavers also have the potential of reducing non-street maintenance costs by helping reduce storm runoff. The permeable design allows some water to percolate into the ground. That provides additional benefits as less storm water adds to flooding concerns as well as avoiding some of the costly solutions the federal government is requiring for storm water run-off in the coming years.
Stanislaus County also used interlocking concrete pavement pavers over a mile of Howard Road off of Interstate 5 in Westly that gets heavy truck traffic as well as vehicles accessing highway services such as restaurants and service stations where weak subsoil was accelerating the deterioration of the asphalt. The speed limit on the road is 35 mph. Completed in 2014, the section of Howard Road is the longest stretch of concrete pavers on a public road in California.
Houghton said public works explored the idea of requiring new neighborhoods to use pavers in a bid to have longer lasting streets that are a lower burden on the taxpayers in the long haul but the proposal was nixed because it would cost developers too much money and would in turn drive up the price of housing.
Singh believes it is an option that developers should be given whether it is on entrance or a main feeder/collector streets or throughout a subdivision’s streets.
Singh likes the fact pavers cost the taxpayers less to maintain, last longer, and are easier to repair while eliminating the patch look after utility work is done.
“It adds value and makes neighborhoods look nicer,” Singh said.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org