Weatherford Democrat

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July 25, 2013

Increase in streets spending needed, council told

GILBERTON, Pa. — By BRIAN SMITH

Keeping Weatherford streets in “good” shape will require more money than is presently being spent, a street expert told city council members Tuesday night.

Steven Smith, president of Infrastructure Management Services, spoke about a recent report his company did after laser testing and driving every city street. The city received an overall score of 66 on a scale of 1-to-100, which placed it in the “good” range. It was the same score the city received in a similar survey in 2006, Smith said.

Maintaining the status quo on streets isn’t such a bad thing, Smith said, but it could lead to further problems.

“Many cities slip from one test to the next but you didn’t, considering you went from 150 to 170 miles of roads in those seven years,” Smith said. “Your backlog of streets (those in poor or very poor condition) also dropped from 18 percent to 15 percent.”

While working on the poor or very poor streets would seem to be the prudent thing to do, Smith said it’s not the most financially savvy option.

“Those poor to very poor streets aren’t going to get any worse but good roads have a tendency to deteriorate quicker, so you want to spend the money on those to ensure they don’t fall into poor or very poor status,” Smith said. “You want to preserve the fabric of the network.”

Not maintaining the fabric will cause the number of streets in backlog to increase. Once the number approaches 20 percent, it is almost impossible to get caught back up, Smith said.

The city spends approximately $663,000 a year on materials presently to maintain the streets. Smith said that number needs to increase to about $1.4 million simply to maintain the status quo. Without it, the city’s overall score is expected to drop by about two points a year.

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