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Council to tackle traffic funding, road project priorities
In February, the City Council revised the trench repair construction standards for perpendicular trench types —called bell holes (which turn into pot holes) — in an effort to improve the conditions of the City’s failing roadways (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

The Turlock City Council will be seeking alternate funding for traffic costs and take a second look at road project priorities during a special meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The Council will be presented with options on funding sources for traffic engineering costs that used to be covered by Local Transportation Funds Local Streets and Roads apportionment, disbursed by the Stanislaus Council of Governments. StanCOG decided to no longer disburse Local Transportation Funds to city agencies and instead keep the funds for future transit uses.

According to a staff report prepared by Interim Development Services Director/City Engineer Nathan Bray, despite numerous discussions with StanCOG, the agency will not consider reversing their decision. This leaves the City of Turlock without an identified funding source for traffic signal maintenance, power costs for traffic signals, power costs for street lights in non-assessment districts, parts and supplies for traffic signals and funds for traffic engineering services.

City staff is recommending that the City Council reallocate SB 1 (Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017) funds for the traffic costs that used to be paid for with LTF funds.

The Council will also be presented with an updated road project priority list. The new list includes further median fencing along Christoffersen Parkway, slurry seals at various locations around town, rehabilitating Lander Avenue from South Avenue to Glenwood and rehabilitating Hawkeye Avenue from Olive to the eastern city limits.

The Council has made seeking funding and policies to improve the city’s failing roadways — which have been deteriorating over the years with a Pavement Condition Index declining from a 65 in 2013 to 57 in 2018, a “fair” score that is just seven points away from a “poor” rating — a priority.

In February, the Council amended the specifications for how utilities and other agencies patch roads after digging holes to make repairs or modifications to their underground pipelines.

The Council revised the trench repair construction standards for perpendicular trench types —called bell holes (which turn into pot holes) — to repaving the roadway 10 feet across, so basically the entire width of the lane.

“The taxpayers are paying for their roads to get fixed and people, utilities and even our own City, we’re ruining them. We need to fix them,” said Mayor Amy Bublak at the Feb. 26 City Council meeting before adopting the change in bell hole repair standards.

The new standards will cost utilities — including the City of Turlock, which provides drinking water and sewer services to residents — more money every time a repair is made to pipelines that lie underneath the roadway.

Bublak said the benefit to the City’s roadways is worth the extra cost.

“Bell hole is a pot hole, it’s just a matter of time…We owe it to our citizens to make sure we’re not just letting somebody poke into it, patch it up and put some bubblegum on it and call it a day,” said Bublak.

“We’re not talking about that we’re putting the burden on the utilities. It’s the utilities that are typically making our streets uneven and potholes and things of that nature. But we’re also held to the same standard…If we break in, then we need to pave it to be responsible to our residents and to our roadways. We haven’t done this since early 1980s…put any money into it. This is our way of actually saying, ‘you know what, we care about our roads,’’ she continued.