WILLCOX — Analysis results, dollar amounts and an eroding roadway situation became the main points of discussion as a study reported how Willcox compared to other cities.
At the June 6 Willcox City Council meeting, an analysis report was made to the council by Trevor Triffo, of MDS Technologies Inc. Triffo and his team had covered every inch of Willcox roadways and rated them on a national scale called the Pavement Condition Index (PCI). Willcox roads were on the lower side of the scale, with 24 percent on the level of ‘failed’ to ‘poor,’ while most cities have 12 percent ‘failed’ to ‘poor’ condition roads. Also, 49 percent of Willcox roads were labeled as ‘satisfactory’ and ‘good.’ However, in other cities the ‘satisfactory’ and ‘good’ levels are usually 66 percent.
The main issues cited for Willcox roads were that they have no base and no drainage, which results in repeated and persistent potholes. However, many of the homes in Willcox are established beside the road. Because of this, the City Council noted that if the roads were raised to increase drainage, the homes would be flooded.
City Manager Caleb Blaschke told the council that the good news is that 1 percent of Willcox sales tax goes to maintaining roadways. However, the bad side is only 10 percent of the budget is going to street preservation.
Triffo addressed the council, saying he suspected the council usually maintained the roads by fixing the worst road situation first. Instead, Triffo advised that the city chip seal roads, focusing on the ones that were still in better condition, and then addressing the larger issues with additional funding. Also, Triffo suggested creating an ordinance to reduce roadwear by introducing set truck routes and establishing a street preservation policy.
“Every other city is facing the same problem,” Blaschke said. “I know that this is something that all major cities have had to do. They’ve had to talk to their citizens about how they’re going to maintain roads. Because, unfortunately, roads across America have not been maintained. It’s a problem and we’re not the only city that’s facing it. A lot of them (other cities) have instituted these ordinances; their websites are very robust, their outreach is very robust, and they help citizens understand the importance of maintaining what they have. As we come across grants and additional funding, we’ll get to those roads eventually; and once we get to those roads, we’ll take care of them.”
“I would put it to the public and see what they think. If there’s interest, people will show up and talk about it if they are willing to cry about it. You’re making a capital investment, and you’re going to spend less money over time in the 10 years than you will when you try to play that catch-up game in 10 to 15 years. We’re looking at the future of Willcox as well, and if it’s a high cost initially, over time you’re going to save money,” said Willcox Vice Mayor Tim Bowlby.
“Especially, if we’re going to be able to have better streets, attract more people to live here, attract more business, you’re going to have more money to work with. So I’d be interested in a public session to talk about it and see what the interest is. Why settle for just maintaining status quo if we’re just going to dig ourselves a bigger hole in the long run?”
Conclusions and recommendations made to Willcox City Council by Analysis Report:
• $450,000 budgeted per year for street preservation
• Consider two-pronged approach:
Proactive maintenance: Rehabilitate roads in fair condition with relatively low-cost strategies (e.g. chip seal, slurry seal, etc.)
Rehabilitate/reconstruct roads in failed or serious condition with appropriate strategies (e.g. base repair, mill and overlay), remove and replace surface, total reconstruction
• Note that in the MicroPAVER Analysis, the $450,000 budget does not include reconstruction costs.
• Other factors to consider: underground utilities, desire to create an upgraded corridor, location of projects throughout the city, etc.