Monday, April 12, 2021

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Colusa seeking plan to improve streets

The Colusa City Council hopes to go after many state and federal infrastructure grants to make street improvements, in addition to dedicating local lax revenue annually for projects. 

The city also plans to commission a pavement management plan that will give the city some direction on how to move forward. 

“We have to start somewhere,” said Councilman Daniel Vaca. “Our streets are bad.” 

Dave Swartz, Colusa’s contracted engineer, in a presentation to the City Council on Feb. 16, said most cities across California now struggle to fund infrastructure projects from local tax revenue because the state is taking a bigger share than they did two decades ago. 

“For every dollar you send to the state, you used to get about 75 percent or 75 cents back from that revenue,” he said. “Now you get back substantially less. Each couple of years, that gets eaten away, eaten away, and eaten away. It used to be you didn’t need all those other programs to plan your operations and maintenance and complete street improvement projects, you had your own revenue sources. That’s California politics. That’s the way it goes. But it’s why we need all these monies now.” 

A pavement improvement plan is basically a software program that is “scenario-based” so the city will know what street to repair first and about how much it will cost. It will aslo log each street’s pavement index, which is a scale of zero to 100, with zero being a gravel road and 100 being a new road. 

Since 2014, Swartz said he has basically worked from a 2010 spreadsheet that identifies the street, its condition (then), and an estimate of the costs in 2010 dollars. 

On a zero to 100 scare, Colusa’s pavement index in 2010 was 29, he said. 

Swartz said the city is at, or slightly above, that index now, largely due to the city’s recent investments in street repairs. 

In the last few years, the City has spent about $1 million each year in General Fund reserves for street maintenance, and has completed about nine projects in 12 years totaling about $3 million. 

In 2017, the City used its $205,000 state allocation from gas taxes (SB 1) for a cape seal project. And after waiting for more than three years for $1.2 million in local State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) funds, the city, in 2019, improved Harris Street, 8th Street, and 6th Street.

The City has also finished the Wescott Road redesign and is currently waiting for $1.4 million in STIP funds to complete that project, Swartz said. 

Swartz said that while grants provide a nice influx of cash, the city would also need to dedicate a continuing, reliable, and yearly funding source in order to upgrade Colusa’s streets. 

The Colusa City Council’s ambitious plan to improve city streets will start with commissioning the pavement improvement plan, possibly at the March 16 meeting.

The PIP will cost about $25,000, officials estimate. 

“Once you have a pavement management plan then you can use it as a decision-making tool,” Swartz said. “Once you have that decision tool, you can start financially designing with it, and you can identify potential funding sources you want to target.”

The City Council anticipates using the Colusa Cannabis Fund to pay for the plan. 

Swartz said street repairs run between $3 per square foot and $23 per square foot, depending on the work needed, and particularly whether storm drainage is needed. 

While the city does not have enough in its Cannabis Fund to do a $1 million street project, officials said they could use the money they have to leverage grants. 

“This would be a good start for what this (Cannabis Fund) is intended for,” said Councilman Tom Reische.

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