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Council to launch roadway improvement plan

DEL MAR — In response to comments made in a citizen satisfaction survey and the results of a pavement assessment, council members are poised to launch a roadway improvement plan in which the city will likely spend money now to save it later.

In the survey completed earlier this year, a majority of the 450 respondents indicated street repairs should be considered a high-priority project.

According to a pavement management program conducted about two years ago that rated the condition of all city roads, only about 10 percent are considered marginal, poor or very poor, Public Works Director Eric Minicilli reported at the May 4 meeting.

Nevertheless, council discussed recommended improvements during recent budget talks and will likely approve plans to get work done during the upcoming two fiscal years.

In addition to rating the streets the assessment provided the city with a database that allows continual updating of roadway segments based on age and previous repairs. It also selects roads for repairs based on best management practices.

Basically it finds the maximum cost effectiveness for which roads should be repaired and when, based on available funding, Minicilli said.

Del Mar has 24 miles of streets. The arterial roadways — Via de la Valle, Camino del Mar, Coast Boulevard, Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar Heights Road and Carmel Valley Road — account for five miles.

The remaining 19 are local streets and alleys in residential neighborhoods.

The assessment program assigned each road a pavement condition index, or PCI.

New streets have a PCI of 100 and are built to last about 50 years.

With no work during that time they slowly degrade to 35 or less, which is considered failing.

Based on the assigned PCIs, 10 percent of Del Mar’s roads are considered excellent, 25 percent are rated very good and 35 percent are considered good.

The overall city average is 65.

A section of Jimmy Durante received a 63 and 26th Street has a PCI of 46. The statewide average for local streets was 66 in 2014.

Minicilli updated the information by including completed and ongoing improvement projects.

According to his data, as of January 2016, Del Mar’s average PCI will be 67, with arterials at 73 and residential roadways at 61.

Historically the city has spent about $330,000 on road improvements, but most of the work was done on arterials, Minicilli said, adding that the plan is to switch the focus to residential streets.

“That’s what we’re hearing from folks,” he said.

Once a PCI drops below 80 a surface seal won’t be effective in repairing it, he said.

“Then you’re going to be looking at a thin overlay,” Minicilli said. “Well there’s a significant cost increase to doing that. It gets even worse as (the PCI goes) down.”

This is where the constant monitoring by the database becomes helpful.

“When it sees one at 81 it’ll suggest slurry sealing the road now,” Minicilli said. “It doesn’t just pick out the worst roads. …  The idea is to spend money now so you won’t have to spend more dollars later.”

He plugged in different funding scenarios to see what the residential PCI would look like in five years.

Using the standard $330,000 per year, the PCI would be 73 in 2021. By comparison, $650,000 in annually funding would result in a PCI of 90 in 2021.

Minicilli said he is aiming to be in the low 80s so his department can consistently do more cost-effective repairs.

“To get all residential roads to a 90 right now it would cost the city $2.8 million,” Minicilli said. “That sounds like a good idea except for the fact that we need to consider what’s going on underneath these roadways.

“I don’t want to pave any roadway where I know in about two years we’ve got sewer work that’s going to have to come in and trench through that roadway,” he added.

The city is currently inspecting infrastructure, a process that will take about eight months, City Manager Scott Huth said.

Minicilli recommended spending $630,000 annually for the next two years. All money would come from the general fund because Del Mar’s annual $200,000 allocation from Transnet, a voter-approved tax for road work, is being used to pay a San Diego Association of Governments bond the city is using for an ongoing street, sidewalk and drainage project.

Huth said money is available.

Mayor Al Corti said repairing roadways is fiscally responsible because streets are essential.

The proposal could be approved as part of the budget next month.