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Will council cut other services to step up street work and/ or reduce preventative maintenance on newer streets?
street cracks
Cracks in a Manteca residential street. - photo by Bulletin file photo

Manteca’s elected leaders want to see if a major shift in the city’s street maintenance program in place since 2008 can address those residential streets that have deteriorated the most as well as conduct critical work needed to make sure preventative maintenance is done in a timely to make sure streets in better condition don’t deteriorate to the point they start needing more costly work.

Whether they can pull that off may come down to taking unrestricted money away from other municipal operations, spending down general fund reserves or somehow coming up with a new funding source. Each option is fraught with landmines. 

Taking funding from other departments where they legally can means services or projects would have to be reduced.

Spending down the 25 percent unrestricted general fund reserve could expose Manteca to financial problems if projected revenue doesn’t 100 percent materialize or an unexpected emergency such as major equipment failure or a disaster hits. Despite a robust economy, Turlock is struggling to avoid layoffs and other service cutbacks after tax revenue projections failed to materialize and the council ate into general fund reserves to go on a spending spree beyond what they had previously budgeted. Seeking tax increases to do the work isn’t likely to be popular at the ballot box.

On Tuesday, Mayor Ben Cantu was unsuccessful in his bid to take $810,000 set aside to do slurry seal work in streets in the Del Webb neighborhood to prevent deterioration of those streets as well as funds from Springtime Estates that had major issues requiring some streets to be completely rebuilt and shift the money to upgrade streets in the Shasta neighborhood instead.

Cantu’s motion died for a lack of a second.

The council ultimately agreed to direct staff to return at the October meeting with proposals on how neighborhoods where the pavement quality has already slid farther down the universally accepted  pavement rating scale used by experts to determine the longevity that streets have remaining can be addressed.

With the exception of Cantu, the council during an hour plus discussion of the municipal street maintenance program liked the idea science was being used to assess city street conditions while at the same time seeing a need to become more aggressive, if possible, at addressing streets that are not in as good as condition such as in the Del Webb community.

Cantu said staff “needs to put down the slide rules” and walk the streets where there are cracks and grass.

The current street maintenance plan adopted a decade ago and in the process of being updated for the next 10 years is based on the premise of the city getting maximum use out of what funds they receive to avoid even more costly repairs to streets.

Harris & Associates — a street pavement assessment 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 even costlier reconstruction. Based on spending since the report was presented, the city has spent at least $20 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, the report stated it was 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 city uses $1 million plus from Measure K sales tax funds to provide primarily for the maintenance of streets in subdivisions such as the $810,000 worth of work that staff had recommended take place this year in Del Webb. An additional $1 million in Senate Bill 1 gas tax receipts supplements road maintenance but most of that is utilized for maintenance on collector streets such as Powers Avenue and Mission Ridge Drive and arterials such as Spreckels Avenue.

Collector and arterial street work that require major investment of funds such as what is now taking place along Main Street and Yosemite Avenue are funded with what money the city can secure from state and federal sources. 

The city is currently working on the design of improvements for Airport Way from the 120 Bypass to Yosemite Avenue) and Main Street from Yosemite to Northgate.  

State gas tax funds pick up almost the entire $1.3 million tab the city has for a small crew of street maintenance workers that repair signs, pavement striping and markings, fill potholes, do crack sealing and repair concrete sidewalks and broken curbs.  The workers also clean up illegal dumping in city street right of way, and handle traffic control for special events.  In addition to the crew, the City contracts with a private company to maintain and repair traffic signals and street lights.   

Manteca maintains over 450 lane miles of streets, of which 70 percent are 308 lanes miles are subdivision streets. Over ten years ago, the City Council approved dividing the City into 10 zones and each year has utilized funds available to make improvements to the pavement in those areas.  The focus on the effort is preventative maintenance.  That typically comes in the form of seal coats intended to protect the existing asphalt.  Older and more worn or cracked pavement may receive more expensive treatments such as a chip seal, cape seal or overlay.  However, older streets that have not been well maintained may require more extensive improvements up to and including replacement.

The  costs for various street treatments for a residential street — based on pavement conditions —is  that is less costly than arterials and collector streets due to less wear and tear based on a quarter mile cost are:

$24,000 for seal slurry expected to last 5 to 7 years without additional work.

$25,000 for micro-surfacing expected to last 8 to 10 years.

$45,000 for cape seal expected to last 8 to 10 years.

$180,000 for thin overlay expected to last 10 to 15 years.

$600,000 for reconstruction expected to last 15 to 20 years.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email