PASO ROBLES, CA, October 9, 2020 – The City of Paso Robles Public Works Department received an update on the Pavement Condition Index (PCI) rating for city streets. PCI is the commonly accepted system for assessing the overall condition of streets and uses a scale of 1 (poor) to 100 (excellent). The overall average PCI rating for Paso Robles streets today is 52.
Deferred maintenance on streets became a serious issue during the great recession, so in 2012, the citizens of Paso Robles passed a ½-cent Supplemental Sales Tax ballot measure that now generates approximately $5 Million per year. Those funds, and other revenues, The City Council has dedicated every year an amount greater than that raised by the Supplemental Sales Tax for street repairs and maintenance, based upon the community’s expressed priorities.
As a result, during the last 7 years, over $35 million has been invested in repairs and maintenance. These funds have helped stabilize street conditions the last several years but are insufficient to stabilize the conditions going forward, let alone increase the overall quality of Paso’s more than 350 linear miles of road surface. Communities like Paso with large amounts of roadway to maintain per capita are facing increasingly limited resources to keep pace in street maintenance costs.
The 2012 measure also led to the creation of a citizen-led Supplemental Sales Tax Oversight Committee and a 12-year plan for repairs. (The measure will expire in 2024, unless voters approve its extension.)
The Supplemental Tax Oversight Committee works with staff and consultants to determine which streets get repaired each year, using the “critical point pavement management” system and the Pavement Condition Index. Arterial streets, used by all drivers, were the focus in the first five years of projects, 2012-2017. During 2018 and 2019, work was introduced on some collector streets and local residential streets. An updated plan was adopted in February 2020, including continued work on arterials, collectors, and residential streets.
It is estimated that it would take $25 million per year to improve Paso Robles streets to an average rating of 84 (basically a B+) on the PCI index. An average of $10M per year would allow us to maintain our current PCI (52).
“With the reduction in revenue caused by the pandemic and the sunset date of the supplemental sales tax in 2024, the City will be working hard to find ways to adequately fund street repairs for those neighborhoods that began showing wear even before the Great Recession and are still waiting to be repaired,” states Christopher Alakel, Interim Public Works Director. “Street repairs are very expensive and time consuming, so we thank our residents for contributions to this process and will judiciously maximize the effectiveness of all available funds.”
City staff uses value engineering to maximize maintenance and rehabilitation projects to take maximum advantage of such less-expensive techniques as crack sealing and slurry sealing. That said, slurry seal holds roads together for only so long before they need more expensive treatment, such as an overlay. The City’s west-side streets have received less attention over the decades because of the high cost of repair and all of the infrastructure below (including water mains and sewer mains) also needing replacement or other work. In the future, as the worst roads are repaired, costs will go up dramatically. Without additional funding the PCI will decrease significantly.
The next meeting of the Supplemental Sales Tax Committee is scheduled for October 14, 2020; the meeting agenda will be posted here 72 hours prior to the meeting. Bi-monthly updates on City projects in progress, including street repairs, can be found here.
All Supplemental Tax Oversight Committee information, including financial reports, agendas and Frequently Asked Questions, can be found here.