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Council to review potential roadway projects, funding sources
council roads pic
City staff will be compiling a list of potential pot holes and cracked roads that could be fixed if the City Council decides to allocate $100,000 to roadway repairs. - photo by Journal file photo

Turlock City Manager Gary Hampton and City Engineer Mike Pitcock have their work cut out for them over the next three weeks. They have been tasked with finding $100,000 in the City's operational budget that could possibly be reallocated to road repair and present a list of potential road projects the money could be spent on to the Council at their Aug. 9 meeting.

This daunting task came at the direction of the City Council on Tuesday, following a request by Vice Mayor Amy Bublak that the City allocate a minimum amount of $100k for roadway improvements.

"My goal in asking for this is to show commitment to the City's roads," said Bublak on Tuesday.

For Council member Steven Nascimento, the request is coming a little late. He said that committing general funds to road repair would have been better discussed during the several budget workshops the Council held in the last several months.

"Obviously roads are a problem in Turlock..funding those repairs is the difficult part," he said.

Nascimento said he is against using reserves to fund the $100k for road repairs, especially since the Council went from having a surplus of funds in 2014 to deficit spending in 2016.

There was also some discussion on a stipulation in the countywide sales tax measure, which is going before voters in November, that City funding allocated to roadway maintenance and repairs must continue and cannot be supplanted by the tax dollars.

"On the one hand, while I feel we need to put some skin in the game...if a tax passes...that current expenditure is locked into our budget for the next 25 years. What happens when, if, hopefully, a road tax passes?" commented Council member Bill DeHart.

At the Council's Aug. 9 meeting, Hampton and Pitcock will not only present different funding options — reallocation of previously committed general funds or using reserves —but also possible projects.

There is no shortage of poor roadways in Turlock needing repair. In November 2013, Nichols Consulting Engineers outlined the condition of the roadway network in Turlock using a web-based pavement management system. At that time, the city's average Pavement Condition Index — which ranges between 0 (very poor) and 100 (excellent) — was rated at 67.

The city's average PCI at the end of 2015 was 64, representing a three-point drop.

However, what can $100k do in terms of roadway repair? According to Pitcock, $100k would cover 3/4 mile of slurry seal, 1/4 mile micro surfacing, 1/5 mile asphalt rubber cape seal, 1/10 mile overlay or 1/20 mile reconstruction.

Staff time would also need to be allocated to completing a potential project. In June 2015, the Council appropriated $50,000 in the budget to complete improvements to unspecified roadways, but the money was never spent due to City staff having to devote their efforts to time-sensitive projects with over $1.63 million in grant funding that could potentially be lost if deadlines were missed. Those projects included Montana Park, Bernell sidewalks and the Fulkerth Road and Golden State Boulevard intersection.

The primary funding for Turlock roadway improvements over the past five years has come from either excise and sales tax generated from fuel purchases (Local Transportation Fund and Gas Tax) or federal Surface Transportation Program funds. The state fuel excise and sales tax funds are fully used for operational and maintenance costs, supporting street lighting, signalized intersection lights, pot hole repair, roadway striping, median maintenance as well as being used as matching funds on federally funded projects.

The STP funds are dedicated on a project-by-project basis and can only be used for roadways classified as an expressway (like Christoffersen Parkway), arterial (Monte Vista Avenue) or collector (South Avenue) on the California Roadway System map.

The Council is expected to next consider allocating general fund dollars to road repair at their Aug. 9 meeting.