The Town Council listened to a technical presentation from a consultant regarding pavement management during a study session on Sept. 3. It was a program not dissimilar from others they have heard over the past few years, but there seemed to be a feeling that progress is being made.
Councilman Art Tolis reiterated his perspective that the town needs to focus on keeping downtown and arterial streets in top condition, quite literally enhancing the “curb appeal” for prospective new businesses and visitors to town activities and events.
Councilman Mike Scharnow recalled moving into his house in Fountain Hills when the dusty street was made up of dirt and rocks. Following a town-wide paving project after incorporation, Scharnow said his hammerhead cul-du-sac became an area where his boys grew up shooting hoops and neighbors could get together. Scharnow also recalled making cross-town bike rides on less than pristine pavement. He asked the council to remember that the streets, particularly residential, are used by more than just cars.
Town Manager Grady Miller said to Tolis’ point that the arterials and downtown streets also receive the most traffic, and staff is recommending that those areas be maintained with the highest quality rating, or pavement condition index (PCI).
Councilman Dennis Brown, who has sat through several of these pavement management sessions, said he looks forward to December when they can review the data from the consultant, balance the costs and make decisions on going forward with a maintenance program.
Miller said staff would be back with the consultant in December to discuss a standardized PCI for town streets and consider how to achieve the goals financially.
Zac Thomason, client services director for Infrastructure Management Services, made a presentation to the council explaining the grading scale for pavement condition and the nuances and challenges associated with maintaining a desired classification.
Anyone who has ever attended high school will find the grading scale familiar – below 50 is a failing grade, 85 to 100 is A+ condition.
According to Thomason an assessment done by IMS in 2017 determined that Fountain Hills has an overall PCI rating of 63, which is good (low B range).
The study reflects a backlog of streets in dire need of attention at 5.5 percent, well within the target of 12 percent or less for backlogs.
However, Thomason explained that while these numbers look good, the current funding the town has available for pavement management could result in this picture changing rapidly.
Thomason said the town’s budget of $2 million per year for pavement management would result in an overall PCI of 52 and a backlog of 42 percent within 10 years.
He proposed an objective for the town of an overall PCI of 63 with a 15 percent backlog.
Neither Thomason nor staff had the answer to funding annual maintenance to hold those numbers. They expect that picture to be clearer with a few months of work.
When staff comes back to the council in December it expects to have a 10-year rehabilitation plan proposal, a review of budget models associated with various levels of service goals and options to explore other funding plans.
The council took no specific action related to the study session.