City Council Paves the Way for 10 Street Repair Projects

As the City Council formalized the process of asking the state to release funds to help with 10 street projects for the fiscal year, it also got a preview of what the next five-10 years could look like in terms of street maintenance.
Depending on how aggressively it funds the Public Works Department’s street resurfacing and repair efforts, the city could stand to dramatically improve the generally poor condition of its roadways and, in some cases, significantly reduce its overall deferred maintenance amount. This, of course, relies on the availability of public funds and how many other issues take priority — both factors likely to be influenced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The staff report noted that although South Pasadena is accustomed to receiving around $460,000 from the state, out of more than $5.2 billion generated annually by the gas tax created by SB1, there is expected to be a corresponding loss of funds to the overall loss of revenue due to the pandemic. As the city must spend at least $1.4 million of its own dollars to retain the funding, South Pasadena has joined other cities in asking the state to waive those requirements for this fiscal year, which began last week.
Still, Public Works Director Shahid Abbas gave city officials a few pictures of what the department could accomplish in the coming years if the right funding materializes.
“This just shows, if you give me a set of money, what I can do with that,” he said at last week’s presentation.
According to a pavement management program study that Abbas’ department wrapped up in June, the city’s sum Pavement Condition Index, or PCI, rating was 63.8 (out of 100), representing a Poor classification.
“It’s slightly higher than what we’ve had in the previous years,” Abbas said, noting the 59.4 rating determined from the 2015 study. “It’s good progress, but it’s not sufficient progress. The overall condition still remains poor in the city. The statewide average PCI is 65 … and the national PCI is 69.”
The survey included 27.1 miles of arterial collector roads, which had a 68.2 PCI, and 39.4 miles of local streets, which had a 58.9 PCI. (There also are 2.3 miles of alleyways maintained by the city, but Abbas’ presentation did not include their average PCI.) In total, the city maintains nearly 11.65 million square feet of roadway, making it its most expensive asset with an estimated replacement cost of $87.5 million.
Overall, around 25% of South Pasadena’s roads were rated Excellent (from 86-100 PCI), while 17% were Good (71-85 PCI), 23% were At Risk (50-70) and the remaining 35% were Poor (0-49 PCI).
“That means we need to do some immediate treatment as soon as we can,” Abbas said. “If we don’t do any treatment, this will become very expensive for us to maintain.”
Presently, the city’s five-year plan projects $2.1-$2.2 million annually (including all funding sources) for roadway maintenance, which would ostensibly bring the city’s deferred maintenance down to just below $16 million and, importantly, bring its overall PCI to 74.
“If we keep spending this money every year, in the next five years, I think we’ll be at a very good condition,” Abbas said. “We’ll be up to 74, which is really very good and which will be in the top tier in the state of California.”
Should the city elect for a “status quo” spending level — which would maintain the current PCI — it would spend $348,000-$355,000 each year on the road work, but deferred maintenance would balloon to more than $27.6 million.
Under an aggressive plan to bring the city to a PCI to 80, Abbas prepared three projected spending patterns: around $3.9 million annually for five years, $2.98 million annually for seven years and the current spending level for 10 years. (This presentation did not include projections in deferred maintenance changes.)
The department’s new usage of the maintenance program MicroPAVER is slated to help curb costs, Abbas said, because it helps identify 20 different types of road distress and links specialized treatment for each one, “which means we are using our dollars for the right purpose at the right time under the right circumstances.”
Abbas said he also expects to transition to using rubberized asphalt, which uses recycled tires to produce material for roadway paving. He added he was using the new survey as an opportunity to transition the city out of “grandfathered” maintenance plans.
“This time, we want to consider other methods available to us which will take our dollars far and will be more cost-effective,” he said. “I can use $6 to lay one cubic yard [with rubberized asphalt], whereas it’s $20-$28 per cubic yard to do the traditional asphalt mix. On top of that, the life of this rubberized is twice the life of traditional asphalt mix.”
Roads slated for some level of serious work this fiscal year include Pine Street from Meridian Avenue to Huntington Drive ($740,000); Maple Street from Fremont Avenue to Primrose Avenue ($91,000); Maple Street from Meridian to Huntington ($64,000); Mill Road from Garfield Avenue to its terminus ($38,000); Oneonta Knoll Street from Fremont to Primrose ($89,000); Milan Avenue from Edgewood Drive to Oak Street ($150,000); Edgewood from Milan to Wayne Avenue ($200,000); Mission Street from Pasadena Avenue to Arroyo Drive ($80,000); Glendon Way from Monterey Road to Lyndon Street ($35,000); and Arroyo Verde Road from Monterey Road to where it merges with Marmion Way ($70,000; this does not include where Arroyo Verde continues to Pasadena Avenue.)
These 10 roadways range in PCI from 34 to 55.