BY NICOLE LARSON
TURLOCK CITY COUNCIL D-1
The long-awaited Hawkeye Avenue Rehabilitation construction project is currently underway and incorporates different types of treatment ranging from maintenance to reconstruction from Olive Avenue to Waring Road. This will include installing curb ramps at street corners, placing a new cost-effective treatment known as “asphalt rubber cape seals” to rehabilitate roads that are between typical maintenance and reconstruction, performing heavy rehabilitation of the portions that are in the worst condition and new striping and high visibility crosswalks.
The Federal funds utilized for this project are only eligible to be used on the larger roadway segments in town. Hawkeye Avenue, being a primary east-west thoroughfare in Turlock’s Council District 1, serves as a crucial arterial to our entire road network stretching across our city.
So far in my first term, I have regularly heard from our residents about the conditions of our roads and have heard their concerns regarding the approaches necessary to improve our roadway system. I have learned three hard truths that further complicate our road issues:
1. The newest neighborhoods of our city (about around 1980 and after, when assessment districts became more popular in municipalities) pay a special property tax to keep their roads repaired on a regular basis. These taxes are known as Assessment Districts and are collected with property taxes.
2. The older neighborhoods are reliant on City General funds that currently pay for everything else in our city (public safety, recreation programs, parks, etc.)
3. Due to budget constraints, historically our city’s funds have never directly funded any road projects.
Every city in the US is given a grade on their roads quality from 0-100 called its PCI (Pavement Condition Index) level, with 0 being the worst and 100 being the best. The City of Turlock as a whole, has a PCI level of 55. Significant investment is necessary to increase our PCI level or sustain our current level. Unfortunately, road priorities also compete for the funding from the same budget that pays for your police officers, fire fighters, our parks, the list goes on.
Specifically, The PCI level of Turlock’s District 1 (neighborhoods around Crane Park and Turlock High School) is 43 and Turlock’s District 2 (neighborhoods around our down town and West Main Ave.) is 48. These areas have the worst roads, bringing down our city’s overall road condition score. Without consistent funding, these areas will only continue to deteriorate. As a representative and resident of these areas I am troubled by the reality that the historic parts of our city are in significant need of investment as we allocate a small amount of road funds around the entire city with competing priorities.
The City of Turlock does, however, receive some monies annually from different sources such as Measure L, the State Gas Tax, and SB 1 amounting to around $7.5 million annually. Simply put, it is not enough. if you are not currently paying a special fee to maintain your road, your road is probably on a long list of roads that the City will eventually fund with the annual revenues of $7.5 million. This is a huge problem for the future of our city’s road network.
The Hawkeye rehabilitation project is only one of the many needed infrastructure improvements in our whole city. Although the solution isn’t clear today, I am committed to identifying the issues and striving towards a long-term solution. What is clear, is that our current budget and funding sources are inadequate to repair our roads to a level our residents deserve. I, our current city council, and our city staff, continue to explore every possible option to secure consistent funding to our road network. The investment we make today in our infrastructure is crucial for the future of Turlock.