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Council approves contract for roads program to begin
On Tuesday, the Turlock City Council earmarked $929,643 from the Measure A fund to kickstart a five-year plan to fix Turlock’s roads. - photo by Journal file photo

The Roads Initiative Program is officially underway in Turlock after the City Council on Tuesday approved nearly $1 million in Measure A funding to be used for its professional planning and preliminary design. 

In a split vote, with Councilmembers Nicole Larson and Andrew Nosrati dissenting, an agreement with Michael Baker International, Inc. in the amount of $844,642.50 as well as an additional $85,000 in contingency funding was approved by the Council, earmarking $929,643 from the Measure A fund to kickstart a five-year plan to fix Turlock’s roads. 

The Council had previously heard from MBI and the organization’s subconsultant PFIC during a Sept. 1 workshop, then again during a Sept. 14 meeting. A final item detailing MBI’s plan to fix the city’s roads was presented to the Council Tuesday for approval. 

In general, MBI’s scope of services will include the evaluation of Turlock’s existing infrastructure; the collection of data using LiDAR, laser and optical methods; updating the StreetSaver data and the city’s Pavement Condition Index; performing a budget analysis and maintenance/rehabilitation needs assessment; and conducting public meetings and workshops with the City Council to develop the five-year plan. 

MBI Vice President Jim Porter explained that the organization's methods are far more efficient than those that other jurisdictions, like Stanislaus County, are currently using.

“[Stanislaus County] visually surveys the pavement for distresses and problems with the pavement, and that’s how they come up with their PCI value. That roughly surveys 5% of the roadway network,” Porter said. “What we’re proposing is to use our LiDAR van to assess 100% of the roadway network.”

The method provides added value in that LiDAR technology assesses every bump and crack int the road upon its initial survey, rather than requiring repeated visual surveillance techniques. 

Larson stated that she didn’t feel comfortable approving the totality of the over $800,000 contract with MBI, and would rather see results of the initial assessments and go little by little before approving any plans. Under the approved contract, MBI will begin its full scope of work including analysis, creating a project list and generating the five-year plan.

“The staff report discusses that the reason why we tabled this was to take this a bit — and maybe I’m misunderstanding — a bit more piece by piece,” Larson said. “The almost $400,000 is what I was thinking we were going to approve now, and then after we receive the data, we understand the scope, we understand the funding mechanisms, then at that point we go to the other tasks that are tasked out.”

While the evaluation and planning process will create the foundation and scope of work needed for road repairs in Turlock, projects will be presented to Council for approval. The potential funding options for these projects may include, but will not necessarily be limited to, G.O. Bonds; Lease-Revenue Bonds; total costs, including financing, of bonds; Federal/State grant opportunities; creative funding opportunities; and use of available funding.

Nosrati voted against the contract because he doesn’t believe the City has adequate staffing to handle such an undertaking after Interim Development Services Director Nathan Bray resigned last month. 

“I think there’s a very real possibility that what you guys are going to be offering is the right path for our city...however, from my perspective, it’s really difficult to just trust the reports without having someone in that seat, a stable person in that seat,” Nosrati said. “...I would ideally want us to be moving forward with more caution and concern about how we’re going to spend the dollars best and I don’t know that we can do that without having the proper administrative oversight and people in the right seats.”

Vice Mayor Pam Franco pointed out that the City has Interim City Manager Sarah Eddy and a newly-hired roads manager, in addition to Katie Quintero who is overseeing the planning department. 

“We have an opportunity, while we’re hiring a City Manager, to utilize a group to get ourselves prepared to start doing something about [roads],” Mayor Amy Bublak added. “It’s not, ‘Oh my gosh, you guys are moving so fast.’ 1985 until now, that’s not really fast. Every single one of us has heard over and over fix our roads, fix our roads. And here we are trying to do that.”

Within 30 to 60 days after MBI is given the notice to proceed under the agreement, they will confirm up to 15 streets which could be constructed during the 2022 construction season that can be rehabilitated without the need for any utility, traffic signal or other work. This list would be presented to the Council, and City staff is beginning the process of obtaining a Municipal Advisor and perhaps other contracted services that may be needed to complete this project.