TERRACE city council won’t commit on if it’ll be putting more money towards fixing up the deteriorating roads around town.
“We’ve talked about road repair acceleration for a couple of years as a council, and we’re trying to fit that into what remains a fairly tight operational budget,” mayor Dave Pernarowski said. “Right now I’m just trying to find some….newer solutions that might help us, at least for some of the really bad potholed roads.”
He said he’s been calling around to see what other options are available besides patching, saying that there’s a possibility the city could make use of a pulverizing and paving machine that would recoat the surface of a few roads to keep them usable for the next few years.
“I would like to find out more about sealcoating, which is a technique that is used primarily on highways, but could be done on city streets,” he said, but added that he needed to find more information on it and it all depends on cost, as well.
“It’s just one of those things where….you have to keep looking for some type of solution, so that we’re not going to find ourselves falling so far behind that we’re left with a city that’s full of crumbled roads,” Pernarowski said. All councillors acknowledged the road conditions were bad, but said they’d have to look into the budget to see if the city can afford to take action.
“It’s tough,” said longtime councillor Lynne Christiansen. “I definitely see the need, and I’m going to look hard to see how we can stretch our dollars to do that, but I don’t know how much we’ll be able to do. We can only do what we can do with the budget we’ve got.
“I hate to sound negative, but honestly, you gotta look at the budget and just know what you can afford,” Christiansen continued. “I know we’ve got awful roads, and I don’t know if we’re going to be able to afford to do too much better.”
Councillor Bruce Martindale agreed.
“I’m fully aware of how bad those roads are,” he said, adding that while there’s obviously a discussion to be had on the road conditions here, it would be imprudent to say if he’d increase the budget without discussing it with public works and fellow councillors.
“It’s been a terrible winter for roads, all across Canada,” he said, saying that other municipalities are in similar circumstances.
“You only have to drive around town to see how some roads…we’ve never had this kind of damage,” Martindale said. “It’s been a very, very hard winter on our roads. It doesn’t mean we any more money though.”
Councillor Carol Leclerc said while she typically doesn’t get complaints on the roads, she has this year, noting that the alternating freeze and thaw of winter has caused extensive damage to the roads this year.
But “I think we have to look at the whole picture,” Leclerc said. “If we increase the road patching, what are we taking off the table?”
Councillor Brian Downie said this will have to be a discussion for the upcoming budget meeting.
“I think that we’ve got a significant problem in the condition of our roads,” he said. “Because we can’t afford to expand our road reconstruction program, we’re going to need to be patching roads.”
Councillor Brad Pollard said it is ultimately all about the budget.
“I can easily say that I’d like to see the roads in a better condition,” Pollard said, but added that he doesn’t know don’t know how much road patching will help the roads.
“Some of the damage is bad enough that just filling in the holes just isn’t going to do it,” he said, saying that maybe the city should look into pulling up sections of road and redoing the whole area instead of patching.
Councillor Bruce Bidgood said while he knows one of council’s initial goals was to improve the roads in town, he said some of the problems aren’t readily repaired by just patching.
“Resurfacing the road is the most obvious response to seeing potholes and buckling and waves…but frequently, the true resolution of these particular issues involves not just the surface but redoing the entire base underneath the road, and it also involves redoing the infrastructure that’s below it – the water and the sewer,” he said.
“It’s not just the road, it’s what under the road that counts,” he added, saying that infrastructure should be one of the city’s priorities.
“Accelerate road and sidewalk reconstruction over the next three years” was one of the initiatives council came out with in 2009 after the election and town hall meeting, and Pernarowski was very vocal about road conditions during his campaign for mayor in 2008, saying that he wanted to fix the roads and build new sidewalks.
This year, the draft budget has only one major road project for 2011, and that’s the Davis Ave. strip from Kalum St. to Sparks St., estimated to cost $1,183,200.
There’s also $50,000 for small patches and $51,000 for overlays in the draft budget this year.
Loen Ave., from Eby St. to Munroe St. and Park Ave. west of Kenney St. were originally scheduled in the budget for previous years, but council decided to push them back. At $551,200 for Loen Ave. and $686,400 for Park Ave., both are slated to be worked on in 2012.
The city’s next budget meeting is March 31 at city hall, starting at 5 p.m.
And if any of our readers have a particularly bad road in mind, send in its name to email@example.com and we’ll include it in our next story we do on the topic.