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Fixing the worst of the worst
ARRA funds make Canal Drive rehab possible
Canal Drive
Construction on Canal Drive from Daubenberger Road to E. Main Street began July 26 and is on schedule to finish by the time Turlock High School reopens on Aug. 16. - photo by SABRA STAFFORD / The Journal

Canal Drive isn’t being paved with gold, but stimulus dollars will work all the same.


Just over $2 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds are being used to rehab and repair the busy road that had been blighted with potholes, cracks, and fissures, said Michael Pitcock, director of development services and city engineer for Turlock.


Phase one of the construction project, which stretches between Daubenberger Road to E. Main Street, began July 26 and is on schedule to finish by the time Turlock High School reopens on Aug. 16, Pitcock said. The second phase of the project – from E. Main Street to Geer Road will be started around that time. The striping of the entire road will be done once the two phases are completed.


Canal Drive won the coveted stimulus dollars because it was rated as one of the worst roads in Turlock.


In 2008, Stanislaus County commissioned a Pavement Management System survey of all the streets and roads in the county. A team of engineers drives and visually inspects each network of streets during the survey and rates them using the Pavement Condition Index, which measures the durability and structure of the pavement. The PCI scores range from zero, which is essentially a dirt road, to 100, the best road to drive on. The goal is to have a PCI in the low to mid 80s and to maintain it at that level.


At the completion of the 2008 survey Turlock came away with an average PCI of 59, which put it in the mid-range of the “satisfactory” category.

 The survey ranked 37 percent of Turlock’s streets as “good” and 25.5 percent as “satisfactory.” That left 37.5 percent of the city’s network of streets in the “fair” to “poor” PCI range, with Canal Drive ranked as one of the poorest.

“It absolutely was one of the worst,” Pitcock said.


Pavement that is ranked with a low PCI score are usually streets that are at the end of their service. Like Canal Drive, the streets show extensive signs of wear and tear like potholes, uneven pavement, and cracking. These stretches of pavement can’t be fixed with just a resurfacing treatment. It needs a thick overlay or an entire reconstruction.


The wear and tear on Canal Drive varies from one section to the next, which is why multiple fixes are being used.


For example, the stretch of pavement in front of Turlock High School was repaved a few years ago, which is why on this go-around it is just getting a micro surface overlay that will extend the overall life of the road, Pitcock said. Just beyond that section is a stretch of road that has been heavily damaged by high traffic loads, the environment, and uplifting tree roots, which is why it is getting a more thorough reconstruction.


Keeping a good road at that level is a cost-effective strategy for a city because if left untreated it can rapidly deteriorate and cost taxpayers more to repair.


“We try to be very prudent and effective with the public’s money,” Pitcock said.

 In 2008, the commissioned survey concluded that the city would need to spend $144.9 million through 2013 to achieve a PCI in the low to mid 80s. Unfortunately, that is about $143 million over the current $1 million budgeted to the engineering department. To keep Turlock streets at the status quo PCI of 59, the city would need to spend around $9 million annually, Pitcock said.To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.