A growing backlog of street repair needs exacerbated by a decimated streets maintenance crew is creating a crack epidemic in Manteca.
Manteca is limping along with eight street maintenance workers — down from 15 in 2008 before budget cuts triggered by the recession hit. There hasn’t been a dedicated supervisor in charge of overseeing the daily upkeep of the city’s 200 plus miles of streets, along with sidewalks, signs, street lights and such for three years as the position was combined with the oversight of fleet maintenance and building maintenance when longtime streets superintendent Dennis Reis retired more than three years ago.
“When I started in Manteca (in 2007) there was a full-time crew that kept on top of problems with sidewalks, curbs, and gutters,” noted Public Works Director Mark Houghton.
Today sidewalk repairs and such are mixed in with other pressing needs the eight street workers handle.
It is why 17 wide cracks — some large enough for you to step in — crossing the loop street created by Victory Avenue and Tappan Place north of Alameda Street just west of the Tidewater Bikeway — are taking so long to address.
A visibly agitated Councilwoman Debby Moorhead brought up the cracks along Tappan Way at the Nov. 21 council meeting — some six months after she originally addressed them during a previous council meeting. She has called the large cracks a “dangerous situation”.
Residents on the street have reported individuals getting their feet caught in the cracks or gaps and twisting their ankles as well as children on bicycles taking spills sometimes when they cross them.
City Manager Tim Ogden confirmed Thursday that a remedial repair effort to address the cracks on Tappan Place is “in the que” and are targeted to be addressed within the month.
But until the city is able to restore staffing and increase funding for streets maintenance, Manteca is likely to fall farther behind in addressing needs especially given with each passing year more and more streets are being added as the city grows.
The restoration of two
positions on hold due
to funding question
The current budget provides for hiring two more street workers to bring the ranks up to 10 — two thirds of what the street crew was nine years ago. The positions aren’t being filled until it is clear money committed to Manteca by state sources is in the pipeline.
In the coming months a streets superintendent will be hired. The current consolidation of three sub-departments under one supervisor was done as a cost saving move. It places 35 workers doing vastly different tasks under one person who has his focus split between keeping city offices maintained, police cars along with garbage trucks and other city vehicles running, as well as overseeing the streets.
Houghton declined to estimate how many workers the street crew needs except to “say more.” Based on efforts prior to 2008 it is likely the city is at least seven street workers short if not more given miles of streets have been added during the past nine years.
“We need to be spending $3 million to $4 million a year on pavement maintenance,” Houghton said.
The city typically spends $1.5 million relying primarily on the city’s share of state gas tax as well as Measure K funds. The State Department of Finance estimates the new gas tax will send an additional $417,208 to Manteca in the current fiscal year and $1,251,552 in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
Assuming no deterioration in funding levels from either the state or the countywide half cent sales tax that is distributed for maintenance, the city could see $2.7 million coming its way on an annual basis starting next year. That won’t happen if an effort to repeal the gas tax increase occurs.
Houghton noted the funding from gas tax has been dwindling over the years as vehicle gas mileage has improved significantly prompting a drop in fuel consumption. Meanwhile, there are even more vehicles in roads wearing and tearing pavement.
Houghton said it can mean even more problems with Manteca streets in the coming years.
Houghton’s concerns were backed up by a pavement management survey in 2014 that determined Manteca needed to spend $37.5 million over the next five years to avoid preventing 180.14 miles of city streets from deteriorating to a point they need evenly costlier reconstruction. Street pavement experts from Harris & Associates surveyed 219 miles of municipal streets. The survey excluded all streets that had either been put in place or had maintenance done on them within the previous two years.
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 report inventoried existing pavement conductions, assigned condition ratings, and listed suggested maintenance strategies.
The report indicated:
u135.18 miles of streets are in very good shape and simply need a crack seal.
u33.91 miles are in good shape and need thin asphalt overlay.
u9.01 miles are in poor condition and need thick asphalt overlay.
u2.16 miles are in very poor shape and require reconstruction.
u39 miles are in excellent condition and do not require work.
Manteca getting ready
to tackle a number
of streets with upgrades
or pavement surfacing
Manteca is in the process of seeking bids for $2.7 million worth of annual street maintenance — funds set aside for both the 2017 and 2018 calendar years.
The streets involved are:
uGenerally bounded by Union Road on the west, Main Street on the east, Louise Avenue on the north, and Yosemite Avenue on the south.
uGenerally bounded by Airport Way on the west, Union Road on the east, Louise Avenue on the north, and Crom Street on the south.
uThe Sherwood Forest Subdivision Units No. 1 and No. 2 south of Lathrop Road, east of East Union High and north of Northgate Park and Neil Hafley School.
That is in addition to a $5.5 million project using primarily federal funds that will repave Main Street from Atherton Drive to Yosemite Avenue as well as Yosemite Avenue from Main Street to Cottage Avenue/Spreckels Avenue scheduled for next year.
Some areas with major issues — such as the Springtime Estates neighborhood in the triangle bounded by Louise Avenue, Main Street and Highway 99 where streets managed to be built in the 1980s — need costly reconstruction.
Pavers being explored
to address neighborhood
streets where major
& costly is needed
In such cases the public works staff is exploring the use of pavers such as Ripon has in its downtown district and some of its newer neighborhoods.
Houghton said the cost is higher than reconstruction but when you take into consideration long-term maintenance costs and other issues pavers may make sense.
If pavers break, they can be replaced instead of having to resurface the entire street. They can be removed when unexpected utility work is done and replaced to their pre-existing condition unlike asphalt that is patched where holes have been dug.
Georgetown in the District of Columbia contends pavers are an effective way to slow speeds and are safe when modern materials are employed and the latest techniques used to place them.
Atlanta has even torn up six miles of streets near Turner Field and replaced them with red Georgia brick in order to reduce flooding. The streets contain a layer of filtration rocks with loosely spaced bricks on top allowing for significantly better drainage than asphalt.
Some cities have started to require street pavers in new residential neighborhoods to reduce costs.
Long-term costs — something that Houghton’s successors will be facing with all of the new streets being built today — is a big concern for the public works director.
He noted Manteca, along with all other cities adding streets for new residential developments, has no funding mechanism to pay for long-term street maintenance.
Proposal to have new
homeowners pay for
maintenance was shot down
A staff proposal back in 2009 to have new Manteca neighborhoods possibly include community facilities district assessments to generate money for future street maintenance was shot down by the council at the time.
For years such districts covered just the cost of common landscaping and sound wall maintenance. Now new neighborhoods have community facilities district that cover neighborhood park maintenance, long-term replacement costs for storm retention basin equipment in such parks, and street lights within the neighborhood.
Under the Mello-Roos Act of 1982, such community facilities districts can charge for improvements and their ongoing maintenance. That covers streets, sewer systems and other basic infrastructure, police protection, fire protection, ambulance services, schools, parks, libraries, museums and other cultural facilities.
Lathrop’s community facilities districts adopted in recent years often include the cost of building the improvements such as streets while Manteca’s have exclusively been formed to cover maintenance tabs for improvements within the specific neighborhood such as common landscaping and parks.