Stillwater News Press

March 26, 2013

Stillwater Transportation Engineer says streets need maintenance budget

By Chris Day
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — Transportation Engineer Jason Peek asked city councilors to explore a different approach to street improvements.

At Monday’s City Council work session, Peek presented a pavement management strategy which focuses on timely maintenance of streets as well as rehabilitating and reconstructing streets.

An asphalt street, Peek said, has a 20-year life expectancy, while a concrete street has a life expectancy of 30 years. The strategy will keep the city’s streets in good to very good condition for a longer time frame.

The city receives approximately $3.5 million annually from a half cent sales tax designated for street improvement projects. The tax is scheduled to expire in 2016. City officials likely will ask voters to extend it, City Manager Dan Galloway said.

The tax has been used for street reconstruction projects on North Perkins Road, University Avenue, Washington Street, Jardot Road and West 12th Avenue. It will provide funding for the Country Club Road improvement project, Peek said.

The city needs to re-examine its management strategy to use those tax dollars more wisely, he said.

“We need to think of pavement as a system rather than specific projects,” he said. “Preventive maintenance is a better use of those dollars than reconstruction of a small section of street.”

The city should set aside 12 percent of its street-repair budget for preventive maintenance, 45 percent for rehabilitation and 40 percent for reconstruction, Peek said.

The $3.5 million generated by the sales tax will provide enough money to maintain Stillwater’s streets. It wouldn’t cover the cost of major road improvement projects, he said. City councilors must develop other revenue sources.

The city will need a minimum street-improvement budget of $4.5 million annually, Peek said.

Galloway said the street-improvement budget could increase to $6.5 million to $7 million a year if major construction or reconstruction projects are needed.

One option, Galloway said, would be to raise the sales tax designated for street improvements for half of a cent to a 5/8 or 3/4 of a cent. City councilors also could explore other funding options.