City to examine funding for street-repair projects

MILLBRAE — A 2001 budget crisis shifted residential street repairs to the back burner, but the city says it’s time to identify a reliable funding source to bring neighborhood streets up to snuff.

The City Council is scheduled to discuss possible funding mechanisms for repaving streets at its Tuesday meeting, as voters are just over two weeks away from deciding on a major statewide infrastructure bond that would funnel transportation funding into cities.

If it passes, Proposition 1A — part of a $37 billion bond to fund improvements to transportation, housing, levees and schools — would prevent the use of sales tax from gas purchases for anything except transportation improvements.

Millbrae Public Works Director Ron Popp estimates the city could receive approximately$650,000 annually for local street repairs.

The city council discussion also comes on the heels of a Metropolitan Transportation Commission report released last week that many Bay Area roads were in need of repair.

Though arterial and collector streets such as Millbrae and Hillcrest avenues are in good condition, smaller residential streets like Lansdale Avenue are cracked and uneven because of tree roots, age and weather, Popp said.

Of the city’s 58 miles of roadways, the MTC report found that the city’s average score on its Pavement Condition Index was 62 out of 100, below the goal of 70. Larger streets like arterials and collectors scored 80 and 69, respectively, landing them in the “good” and “very good” categories. However, the average score for residential streets was 50, according to a city staff report.

The city needs an estimated $24.4 million to repave all the roadways to bring them all up to at least “good” status, Popp said. The work would need to be spread over 10 years and, accounting for inflation, would require at least $3.1 million annually.

Options include a citywide assessment on the November 2007 ballot to raise $1 million in steady revenue for the repairs; using red-light camera revenue; or establishing a three-person preventative maintenance crew, which would cost roughly $195,000 annually.

Current sources of funding to maintain and repair streets come from federal and state grants; gas tax funds; Measure A, the county’s half-cent transportation tax; Proposition 42 and the General Fund. But federal and state grants can only be used on arterial and collector streets, Popp said. Furthermore, the city’s streets crew was cut in half in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks and almost all street needs, except for minor pothole fixes, were deferred.

Since 2001, the city has been performing patchwork fixes as unrestricted funding streamed in.

tramroop@examiner.com

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