On Monday, Bowling Green Council’s Transportation and Safety Committee heard more about a proposed $3 million plan to pave miles of residential streets, utilizing a portion of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funds.
“I think this is a really good plan to get a lot of streets paved that, frankly, are in need of it,” said Public Services Director Joe Fawcett.
During its previous meeting, council introduced an ordinance which, according to a legislative package document, “authorizes the bidding process to pave approximately 30 lane miles of residential roadways over the next three years.
The list of roads associated with this legislation was compiled by the engineering staff primarily utilizing the Pavement Condition Index Rating which scored roads from failed to good. Staff used the PCI as a guide to identify some of the worst roads, followed by traffic volumes, and finally piecing these together to create biddable projects that would be attractive to a contractor. Previously planned utility work was also a considered component of the analysis.”
The road work proposal was announced during council’s Oct. 4 meeting by Mayor Mike Aspacher. At that meeting, Aspacher said the plan would utilize $3 million of the city’s ARPA funds. The city is slated to receive approximately $7 million in total from ARPA; the first half, amounting to approximately $3.6 million, was received this summer. The second half is expected in 2022.
As announced on Oct. 4, if approved, the paving work would take place in 2022, 2023 and 2024.
Fawcett said that also included in the project would be improvements to ADA ramps and curb replacements as needed.
“We plan to not only take paving into consideration but also to bring curb ramps up to ADA code,” said City Engineer Brad Holman, “and then any curb, if there’s a cracked curb or grass growing up through it, we’ll replace that curb as well.”
Discussing the potential impact of the project overall, Fawcett provided the committee with a statistic: Over the last seven years, the city has averaged 4.36 lane miles paved each year; the paving plan would increase that substantially.
“We can attack this at a much larger scale,” Fawcett said.
Asked about the longevity of newly-paved streets, Holman noted that, depending on the traffic load, the paving can last for decades.
“Residential streets, 20 to 25 years is what we expect,” he said.
Committee Chair Bill Herald asked about the potential for complete streets improvements to be a part of the project.
Fawcett said he looked at the Bicycle Safety Commission’s survey, and while a few streets were ranked for sharrows or a potential bike path, those would not impact the paving project.
He noted that Mannick and Smith is currently conducting a complete streets study for the city, and part of that work will include a community survey to assist the city in decision making about complete streets.
Fawcett also said that the city is “actively looking at (creating a) path from the Community Center up to Cogan’s Crossing,” and that part of the paving plans for 2024 is a path along a portion of South Main Street.
Committee member Jeff Dennis said that one of the goals outlined by Mayor Mike Aspacher for use of the ARPA funds was that it be one-time use, but “this doesn’t seem like one-time use,” he said, saying that the streets will need to be continuously maintained.
“I guess, how sustainable is our street repaving fund?” Dennis asked. “Is there any concern that the percentage of income tax going into the fund is not adequate to maintain this infrastructure when it comes due again” without the ARPA funds?
Fawcett responded that trying to pay for paving has been something that the community has had to deal with for a long time; he referenced a speech on the issue from Mayor Alvie Perkins in the 1970s.
“It’s a problem that probably exists in every community in the state of Ohio,” Fawcett said. “I think we do a pretty darn good job. I think this is going to catapult us forward many, many years. But no, I don’t think this is going to put us in a position” where the city will have to repave a million dollars worth of roads in a particular year.
He said that in the life of a street, the amount and type of traffic will degrade it at a different level depending on where you are in the city.
“I think this is a shot in the arm to help us try and get caught up,” Herald said.
He also encouraged the city administration to look into putting funds into improving sidewalks.