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$800K Paving Plan Targets 9 Streets

by Jordi Gassó | Jul 28, 2014 11:04 am

(9) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Neighborhoods, Transportation

Jordi Gassó Photo At least nine city streets will be repaved and another 12 patched in places under a plan drawn up by city public works and transit officials.

The officials brought the tentative list this past Thursday afternoon to a meeting of the city’s Resource Allocation Committee, which the Board of Alders created in the summer of 2012 with the intention of establishing a more transparent way to divvy up city resources.

The tentative list prioritizes streets for a planned $800,000 paving project this fiscal year.

“We’re looking to stretch the city’s dollar to the nth degree and maximize its benefits,” said public works chief Doug Arndt, who drew up the list.

He emphasized that this list is not final; he’s taking feedback into consideration before presenting a final version this coming week.  Click here to view the tentative list.

Annex Alder Alphonse Paolillo Jr. noted at Thursday’s meeting that close to half the city’s wards are not included in the list. Alders and city officials have clashed numerous times in recent years over how these decisions are made.

“I would call it a work in progress and something that more discussion needs to happen on,” Paolillo said.

He asked Arndt at the meeting how he ranked the streets. In part, Arndt said, he looks at “pavement condition index,” or PCI, a numerical rating from 0 to 100 that indicates the physical integrity of a road or sidewalk. The lower the number, the poorer the conditions. It’s a good guiding light, Arndt (pictured on the left) told the Independent, but not “the be-all and end-all of decision making.”

Other factors, such as heavy traffic and proximity to public services, can play a definitive role in these selections, as well.

“You don’t want to go off into a ward with a quiet little street that there’s no real traffic on, which may be in poor repair but may not be as critical as a street near a school or near a hospital that’s carrying a lot more traffic,” deputy chief administrative officer Jennifer Pugh explained later.

Paolillo Jr., a voting committee member, objected to taking the PCI “out of the equation” for some streets. He argued it could lead to an inequitable allocation of work and resources, leaving out some wards that need repaved streets.

“Work can happen throughout the city using those ratings,” said Paolillo (at left in photo, with Dwight Alder Frank Douglass). “If you have a 60 rather than a 40, you want to clarify” that other variables mean you need to pave that road.

Arndt said the project budget contains a 20 percent contingency reserve for unanticipated costs. If that money remains untouched, it could go toward fulfilling some of the aldermanic paving requests that can’t make the cut this year.

While these separate requests “don’t necessarily take precedence” over projects deemed more pressing, Pugh said, incorporating them into the work plan ensures a more even allotment of projects.

The issue of geographical distribution also permeated discussion at the meeting about traffic-calming solutions related to the Complete Streets program, which seeks to ensure traffic safety. City transit chief Doug Hausladen (at right in photo, with Beverly Hills Alder Richard Furlow) said he’s drawing up a list of proposed low-cost measures to rein in spending.

Department of Transportation, Traffic and Parking His example, he suggested adding curb extensions with painted surfaces and planters to Green Hill Terrace — short-term implementations that could render more expensive engineered solutions unnecessary. (Read more about that here.)

Hausladen will soon present 10 to 20 project traffic-calming recommendations to the committee, each between $10,000 and $20,000, or around 40 percent of the Complete Streets $500,000 yearly budget.

Alders advised Hausladen to obtain community feedback on the projects and avoid focusing too much on one particular ward. If not enough attention is paid to other areas that need similar or more attention, predicted Dwight Alder Frank Douglass, “we’re going to have hell to pay.”

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posted by: FacChec on July 28, 2014  12:51pm

Problem planning misnomers:

Problem 1:

There is no evidence offered in this story that the alders present, or not present, contributed to this process. This is fine, for if they had contributed, they would be in for severe criticism.
If we accept the PCI analogy offered by Arndt, the city will always end up paving the same nine streets, most if not all, have been paved within the last nine years.

Problem 2:

The list of streets needing repair by Arndt’s PCI does not match the priority streets list left over by Rob Smuts in 2013.

Problem 3:

The city’s FY 2014/15 general fund budget is $508M; the city bond fund is $44.3M, of this only $1.7M which is contributed by the state of CT. is being used for street paving. The city collects in excess of $6M in auto taxes and not one dime is allocated towards street repair. This action is a deceitful disgraceful.

Problem 4:

The engineering department contains a bond fund allocation of $2.1M for complete streets, but none of the complete streets happen to be in the neighborhoods of need.

Problem 5:
“Hausladen will soon present 10 to 20 project traffic-calming recommendations to the committee, each between $10,000 and $20,000, or around 40 percent of the Complete Streets $500,000 yearly budget”.

Traffic calming is not a priority over streets which have never been re-paved.

Hausladen’s quote of a $500K budget is inaccurate, the true budgeted amount for 2014/15 complete streets is $2.1M. This $2.1M should be reallocated by the BOA to street paving and eliminate the phony 20% contingency.

posted by: qriverres on July 28, 2014  1:04pm

New Haven Roads could last twice as long if the city was more aggressive on taring the stress cracks in the asphalt. The cracks are killing the road surface through the freeze thaw cycles. It’s almost seems like a state wide neglect. Go to places like Rhode Island and the cracks are all taken care of the point the road surface turns white the roads last so long. Lennox Street is heading to the point of no return if the cracks aren’t take care of soon as possible.

posted by: anonymous on July 28, 2014  1:29pm

“Traffic calming is not a priority over streets which have never been re-paved.”

First off, traffic calming doesn’t have to cost much.  Adding some paint and bollards costs a few thousand dollars, whereas repaving a street can cost millions.

Second, I’d rather have a few bumpy streets than have more dead children, dead seniors, children who can’t play outside, and seniors who can’t cross their own streets to get to the bus, because of improper engineering and wide streets that encourage drivers to travel too fast. 

If we’re repaving streets anyways, from an efficiency standpoint, that’s usually a good time to also add real traffic calming.

posted by: Edward Whalley, H.C.J. on July 28, 2014  4:31pm

FacChec, a fact check:

The Board of Aldermen Order creating the Complete Streets program in New Haven “mandates the application of this [Complete Street] policy, through adherence to the principles of the Design Manual, to any new or improvement project (including resurfacing, restoring, and rehabilitation projects).”

And just as importantly, the official public policy of the City: “prioritizes walkability, intermodal transit, traffic-calming and pedestrian-based economic development over competing goals” such as glass-smooth streets which encourage high speed automobile traffic. 

City of New Haven Complete Streets Design Manual,at p.11.

posted by: Pilay on July 28, 2014  9:46pm

Given we’re about to spend a lot of time and money on fixing these streets, let’s think of all road users, and think ahead to those of the future: now is the time to make our streets safe for pedestrians, cyclists, and other rollers.

All of these are less taxing on the pavement, and will lead to savings in the long run. They all create community, unlike the cars that have set this town back decades. We must get out of the mentality that we need two lanes for parked cars, and two for moving cars. Let’s build more sidewalk space (admittedly not on the cards here), and let’s put down bike lanes when we mark these new streets, which costs next to nothing and has massive effects in encouraging smart, cheap transport.

posted by: Bradley on July 29, 2014  6:36am

FacChec, where is it written that the car tax is earmarked for road repairs? Should the property taxes collected for businesses be used solely to support businesses?

posted by: FacChec on July 29, 2014  9:03am

@ anonymous

The issue concerning Traffic Street calming was not part of the original ordinance, see that here:
http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/smarts_paving_plan_passes/

In FAC the person who introduced traffic calming in this article Doug Hausladen voted against the original proposal:

“Downtown Aldermen Doug Hausladen also spoke against the bill. “I think we’ve created an unnecessary additional process,” he said. The Board of Aldermen already has the City Services and Environmental Policy Committee, which could do the work of the new City Resources Allocation Committee, Hausladen and Elicker were the only “nays” in a 22-2 vote of approval”.

If you agree to traveling on bumpy streets, then traffic calming just adds another bump, and they appear to be situated discriminately avoiding poorer neighborhoods.

@Edward Whalley:
You do not have to read the ordinance, out of context to me.

@Bradley:

It only stands to reason that the city would follow the U.S. government who cannot tax autos, but does place a user tax on cars through the gasoline tax to fund the transportation department in order to maintain the highway system.

Likewise, the state of CT. does not tax autos but does place a user tax on gasoline and another tax on bond fund, which you pay, to fund state roads and provide grants to cities to repair their streets.

The cities cannot tax gasoline, but does tax autos, and therefore, is the logical source to raise monies to maintain city roads.
As I already stated in problem 3 (above):

“Problem 3:

The city’s FY 2014/15 general fund budget is $508M; the city bond fund is $44.3M, of this only $1.7M which is contributed by the state of CT. is being used for street paving. The city collects in excess of $6M in auto taxes and not one dime is allocated towards street repair. This action is deceitful and disgraceful.

With that I will say goodnight.

posted by: 32knot on July 29, 2014  1:15pm

Taking care of the infrastructure is one of the most BASIC DUTIES of city gov. The city is only paving NINE streets!!!  I think we need to re-adjust the priorities in New Haven and stop worrying about stuff that is not a BASIC DUTY and the things the city should be doing first, do first!!  NINE streets, you got to be kidding, there are nine streets in my ward alone that are car eaters and need to be fixed.

posted by: FacChec on July 29, 2014  4:09pm

To all:

Please note corrections to two previous comments following, in parenthesis, concerning city auto taxes collected.


The city collects in excess of $6M ($15.2M in auto & auto supplemental taxes) and not one dime is allocated towards street repair. This action is deceitful and disgraceful.

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