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Citrus Heights eyes new strategy to maintain, repair local roads

A photo from March 2022 shows the pavement on Reno Lane at Mariposa Avenue. // CH Sentinel

By Phillip Pesola–
A staff report prepared by the city’s General Services Director and City Engineer was presented to the City Council last month, detailing a new proposed strategy for maintaining the city’s roads.

In light of projected funding for pavement projects over the next five years, city staff recommend shifting more resources toward repairing specific non-residential roads which are not expected to be eligible for grant funding.

The report references a number called the Pavement Condition Index (PCI), which is used by the city to keep track of the quality of each street and prioritize repairs. The number represents the condition of roads on a scale of 0 to 100. Since the city’s tracking system was updated in 2019, the average index of Citrus Heights streets has dropped by three points to 51, the report says.

The existing strategy generally prioritizes the streets with the lowest index, which are often residential streets with low traffic volumes. The report recommends a more balanced approach, with at least 50% of funding reserved for arterial and collector roadways, which experience much more traffic and serve the city’s schools, businesses, and other vital areas.

Additional steps are also advised, including prioritizing work on streets that are shared with utilities or other local jurisdictions who could assist with the costs, and increased focus on preventative maintenance.

During the Sept. 22 council meeting, General Services Director Regina Cave presented the proposed strategy, noting the city currently has a backlog of road repairs totaling $82 million, and sharing projections for the next five years. With the current strategy, overall PCI is projected to drop from 51 to 28, while the new strategy would potentially see a less significant reduction to 43.

During discussion following the presentation, Cave said streets ideally should be kept above a condition index of 60, because preventative maintenance is more cost-effective than repairing significant damage.

According to a slide shown during the meeting, existing street conditions include 11% in very poor or failed condition (0-25 PCI), 41% in poor condition (26-50 PCI), 28% in fair condition (28%) and the remaining 20% in good or very good condition, above a 70 rating.

The city is on track to increase its road maintenance budget over the next few years, according to a chart shown in Cave’s staff report.

The city plans to begin spending $2 million from its General Fund on road repaving in the 2023-24 fiscal year, bumping up the total spending on roads to $5.4 million that year when accounting for gas tax allocations and other funding sources. That number is projected to increase to $7.5 million the following fiscal year, when General Fund spending is set to increase to $4 million for roads.

While no vote was taken during the meeting, council members generally supported the proposed strategy and gave the General Services Department direction to pursue development of a long-term pavement restoration plan, which will then be brought back to council for approval.

The staff report can be viewed online here, and a recording of the presentation can be viewed on the city’s Youtube channel.

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