Buoyed by the strong positive reaction to this year’s paving, the City Council appears ready to continue the program next year, even though it means the city will not be able to rebuild sidewalks.
Council members were hesitant to approve the new paving plan this year because the $3 million budget included money that had been intended for sidewalks.
Acting Mayor Gary McCarthy persuaded the council to put roads above sidewalks, and the city rebuilt almost none of its sidewalks this year.
Now, council members are believers. At a budget committee meeting, they said they had gotten so much praise from residents about the 9.5 miles of new roads that they want to continue the program next year.
City Engineer Paul Cassillo’s proposed budget calls for paving 10 to 13 miles of road next year, mostly using the new hot-recycling method.
The city would hire a crew to use a series of special machines that heat the pavement until it begins to melt, pour in new oil to restore the pavement’s flexibility, mix it together and smooth it into a new surface. Unlike traditional paving, the work takes less than a day per street. However, the pavement has a shorter projected lifespan.
Cassillo expects it to last 10 to 14 years.
The budget also calls for city crews to do more paving work of their own, since they would not be needed for the hot-recycling work. The hot-recycling machines can be used only by trained technicians.
This year, they were able to rip out and rebuild many portions of streets that had not been scheduled for repaving this year, including the pothole-heavy hill section of Eastern Avenue.
“Carl’s crews this year have kicked it up about 18 notches,” Cassillo said. “They milled out sections of the Eastern hill since we couldn’t get it into the recycling program.”
Next year, the city crews will focus on residential streets because Cassillo intends to use the hot-recycling program to repave badly damaged main streets. Those streets, defined as roads used by more than 3,000 cars a day, can’t wait, Cassillo said.
“They’re on the cusp,” he said. “You’re going to start losing them.”
Twenty to 30 miles of main streets must be repaved in the next three years, he said.
It will take three years to pave them unless the council increases the budget, so residential streets must wait until 2015.
Commissioner of General Services Carl Olsen said his crews will keep the residential streets passable until then. “We’re going to have to pick up the pace and fill in that gap,” he said.
His budget calls for renting a second milling machine, but he told the council he’ll be limited by the number of workers he has to run the machine.
Councilman Thomas Della Sala asked whether he could hire seasonal workers to focus on the roads. Olsen said it was unlikely.
“It’s difficult to find seasonal people that have the CDL licenses and the experience,” Olsen said.
Council members did not discuss hiring more full-time workers.
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