Public Works Director Gantick concerned about future of roads

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Thu., Jul. 28, 2011
Contributed
This photo from a typical section of road in the Avery Heights subdivision shows the pavement cracks, past attempts at sealing the cracks and the grass actually growing through the crack seal. Photos courtesy of South Windsor Public Works Department. - Contributed Photo

At the July 18 Town Council meeting, Public Works Director Michael Gantick presented a listing of road infrastructure projects for the councilors to consider for capital improvements. Although the Town Council decided against moving the overall road improvement project for the Avery Heights subdivision to a referendum vote, this and several other projects remain on the Public Works’ “to do” list.

According to Gantick, historically the town funded approximately $800,000 of road projects each year. This amount has been significantly reduced over the past few years. “The residents are seeing that the road conditions are decreasing,” said Gantick.

Although at first glance it seems counter-intuitive, in most cases it is more cost-effective to maintain the good roads, rather than tackle the roads in poor condition first. This relates to the associated maintenance costs. It costs approximately 10 times as much to restore a road from very poor condition to excellent condition than it does to restore a road in only fair condition, Gantick said.

In 2008, the town conducted a survey of the roads, which resulted in a Pavement Condition Index, with perfect roads at an index of 100. At that time, the average PCI was 85. For 26 miles of road, that meant no maintenance was needed. For the 65 mile of roads in good condition, with a PCI of 86 to 92, only routine maintenance, such as crack sealing or minor localized repair was needed. At a PCI of 75 or less, the cost of maintenance shifts significantly. In 2008, 10 miles of road needed preventive maintenance to keep the road from dropping below a fair condition. Such techniques include chip seal or pavement overlay.

According to the 2008 survey, 15 miles of road fell within a PCI of 61 to 72, indicating that structural improvement was necessary. An additional 17 miles of road fell below a PCI of 60, described as a deficient condition. Such road work requires substantial road base rehabilitation, with a per mile cost of more than $750,000. By comparison, routine maintenance on a road with a PCI of 86 to 92 costs only $87,000 per mile. An updated Pavement Management Report is being prepared for the next fiscal year budget.

The last bond referendum was approved in 2006. In most cases, the project requires at least a year of designing, plus additional time for the permitting process. Although many of the proposed capital improvement projects have been completed, many are still in the design or permitting phase. “We’re all concerned about the future projects list,” noted Gantick. Details on the proposed road projects can be viewed on the town’s website on capital projects at http://www.southwindsor.org/pages/swindsorct_it/cap_projects.

In addition to the road work, Public Works has several other projects to consider for funding, from municipal buildings to water and sewage treatment plants. “We’ve got a $100 million business here,” said Gantick. “What are our goals and objectives?” He noted that South Windsor is somewhat of an advantage due to a steady tax revenue stream, but he is concerned with maintaining the town’s long-term economic edge, as well as preparing for even more state and federal financial rollbacks. “If you don’t start [putting the money aside], you’ll never get there,” he said.


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