Saturday, April 13, 2013

Renewing and Preserving the Town of Longmeadow - Part 3

After devoting my working life to facility management including teaching  hundreds of other maintenance professionals in the proper techniques and methods for establishing and maintaining proactive maintenance and repair programs, it is my opinion that we have some very serious funding shortfalls in our community for maintenance and repair activities.
Having a new town manager will renew our opportunities for making improvements in our maintenance and repair programs. As we move forward with this new partnership, it will become increasingly important to keep the residents of our town updated on our progress of stretching our dollars to meet the highest priority needs of our resources.
Our current strategic planning document listed our resource value at $1,000,000,000. Based on the accepted recommendation to set aside 2% to 4% of the value of our resource annually for the maintenance and repair, we should be setting aside $20,000,000 to $40,000,000 each year.
 We have a multi-million dollar Department of Public Work’s annual budget, but to the greatest extent these funds are used for the completion of routine and minor maintenance. We annually set aside $1,000,000 in our Capital Improvement program which is solely dedicated towards capital maintenance and repair activities.  Although this is a lot of money, $1,000,000 only equals 5% of the minimum we should be spending each year on maintenance and repair, or 1/10th of 1% of the total value of our resource instead of a minimum of 2%.
Annually we also receive Chapter 90 funds from the state to assist us in maintaining our roadways. Although we receive approximately $450,000 a year from this fund, we should be spending approximately $500,000 a year on routine maintenance on our roadway system. It is evident that our state allocation doesn’t even fully fund our routine maintenance program and does nothing for our deferred maintenance backlog of roadway projects. 

 In 2009, the town purchased a computerized pavement management system which was installed and made operational by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.  This program tracks the condition of our roadways and provides data for making roadway improvements. When the system was installed, it showed that we had an estimated backlog of roadway work totaling approximately $12,200,000. The report further stated unless we significantly increased our allocations for roadway maintenance the backlog would continue to increase. The report indicated that by the year 2014 our backlog would be $27,000,000.  Since 2009, we have done very little to alter the outcome of this study. Unfortunately, delaying roadway repairs will exponentially increase the cost of repairs when completed.  

In Longmeadow we have approximately 100 miles of roadways. Some of these roadways such as Longmeadow Street, Bliss Road, and Converse Street receive more average daily traffic (ADT) than a typical residential street. As a result of this traffic, these roadways will require significantly more maintenance than a residential road.  

Generally speaking all roads deteriorate over time from basic weathering and this process will speed up depending on use and other factors. If left unattended, a new road will gradually degrade to a road that requires reconstruction. 

Common Terms for Asphalt Maintenance

Routine Maintenance – Routine maintenance items are those activities designed to address or correct specific pavement failures or distress. Routine maintenance typically addresses localized pavement defects and includes such activities as patching, crack sealing, infra-red heat treatment and other techniques to repair a specific problem area. 

Preventative Maintenance – Preventative mainenance tasks are planned activities performed at regular intervals which are designed to protect and seal the pavement. The seal will provide a number of benefits including extending the life of the wearing surface, preventing the intrusion of air and moisture that can break down the pavement surface and filling small cracks and voids in the surface to prevent them increasing in size. Preventative maintenance activities are cheaper per foot of road than reconstruction or rehabilitation. 

Rehabilitation – Rehabilitation denotes that a roadway requires extensive overhaul to bring its conditon up to an acceeptable level and provide significant additional life. Rehabilitation can involve a number of activities including the following:

·         Parital depth patching
·         Full depth patching
·         Joint and crack sealing
·         Grouting and under-sealing (filling voids)
·         Grinding and milling the pavement to remove high spots and prepare for new layers
·         Overlays 

Reconstruction – Reconstruction is considered the complete removal and reconstruction of a road or segment. The road is beyond repair and needs to be completely rebuilt. Included in reconstruction projects would be items such as widening, realignment, traffic control devices,and major base and drainage work.
The attached chart demonstrates the effects of delays in performing roadway maintenance.  

Dollar amounts required for repairs were taken from the study completed in 2009 by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.
 Chart source U.S. Department of Transportation (FHWA)

 Let us assume that 40% of our streets are main arterial roads and 60% are residential.  The chart above is best suited for arterial roads as residential roads would have lower ADT counts.  Let’s assume we reconstruct our arterial roads on a twelve year schedule and our residential streets on a sixteen year schedule. Accordingly, we would rehabilitate approximately 3.3 miles of arterial roads and 3.75 miles of residential roadway annually.  Even with all of our roadways returned to a given standard and with us providing adequate preventative maintenance, our annual rehabilitation cost would be between $1,900,000 and $3,500,000, which doesn’t included the $500,000 a year that should be spent on routine/preventative roadway maintenance. These figures represent a simple mill and overlay and do not take into account drainage repairs or the replacement of underground utilities.  

In 2008, the Town of Longmeadow contracted with Tighe & Bond, Consulting Engineers and Environmental Specialists to complete a water system evaluation. The results of this study indicated we had nearly $55,000,000 worth of short and long-term improvements to be made to our water system. Since the completion of this study many improvements have been made to our water system but we still have tens of millions of dollars worth of needed repairs. We have miles of six inch and four inch water lines that need replacement to meet capacity requirements in addition to miles of eight inch lines also requiring cyclic replacement. 

In 2008, the Town of Longmeadow contracted with Tighe & Bond, Consulting Engineers and Environmental Specialists to complete a sewer system evaluation with focus on operations and maintenance. Although the report mentioned the general condition of many of the systems components, most of their recommendations for improvements were for maintenance and operational issues. The report recommended many operational items which have been cared for and/or are currently being pursued for correction. Many ongoing activities are collecting additional data on our system to more accurately forecast future improvements. Even though the results of the study were more concerning to future maintenance procedures, it still outlined over $2,000,000 in needed improvements stating “As DPW  implements report recommendations we anticipate additional sewer system problems will be identified, especially in the older sections of the community situated along Longmeadow Street. As problems are identified, additional funds will be necessary to repair and update the system.” 
We have approximately 71.5 miles of sidewalks.  Our sidewalks like our roads are in various states of need and require a considerable amount of rehabilitation.  If we assume that 1/3rd of our sidewalks currently need replacement (conservative estimate) it will cost us $5,300,000 to complete these repairs. This year the Select Board recommended that $280,000 be allocated towards this program with funds from the capital improvement program.   Even if this effort is continued in the future, it will still take us 18.92 years to eliminate the current backlog. 

In a study completed by JCJ Architecture in 2007 on fifteen of Town of Longmeadow’s buildings showed an estimated backlog of work including schools to be approximately $123,000,000.  

In this brief overview I have provided some insight on the growing problem of deferred maintenance and repair on just five critical resource groups in our community. Other resources not included would be parking lots, streetlights, signs, trees, landscape areas, recreation areas, drainage systems, dams,  traffic signals, ADA compliance, just to mention a few of the other areas that demand equal attention during the year.

Just with the resource groups shown it is estimated that we have maintenance and repair backlog of approximately $213,000,000. As staggering as this figure is, it doesn’t take into consideration the millions of dollars we need to add to our maintenance and repair annual budgets to provide adequate preventative maintenance in the future to keep our resources at an acceptable standard. And these figures don’t take into account the deficiencies of the resource groups not mentioned in this brief overview of our Town’s resources.   

I have identified a problem that our community faces and I have outlined a process for improvement. I am hopeful that our new town manager will embrace some of my suggestions as he develops an action plan for the future of our community that avoids making the same mistakes from the past. We can reverse the degenerative curve on the condition of our resources, but it is going to involve varying degrees of change, growth, and increased revenues.
The residents of Longmeadow deserve to live in a well maintained community where our attention ensures that our resources receive adequate maintenance attention to preserve and protect them for the enjoyment of future generations.[1]
Richard Foster
Although I am a Select Board member these views are my personal views and observations and should not be considered as the official opinion of the Longmeadow Select Board.

[1] Committing to the Cost of Ownership, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 1990
Engineering Report, State of the Infrastructure Town of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, February 2010
JCJ Architecture Town-Wide Facilities Study, 2007
Tighe & Bond Sewer System Evaluation, 2008
Tighe & Bond Water System Evaluation, 2008

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