Back in 2007, talk of street preservation in Spokane Valley was just beginning to develop some traction.
At a City Council meeting in July of that year, representatives of the governing board heard an update on a document known as the Street Master Plan, a compilation that chronicled the condition of 435 miles of Valley roads. One portion of the plan, called the Pavement Management Program, outlined steps the city could take to maintain streets in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
While much of the discussion did pertain to the minutia of costs, maintenance strategies and correlating municipal priorities, the takeaway message was simple – preserving roads on a regular basis translates to a decision of dollars and sense.
One scenario, involving a one-mile stretch of road, evaluated the costs of regular maintenance – in the form of fog-sealing and micropaving – that would run the city around $241,000 over 10 years. The price of replacing that same mile of unmaintained roadway would result in a bill of $2.4 million.
Steve Worley, senior project engineer for the city of Spokane Valley, has been the coordinator of the Street Master Plan since its origin. In 2007, Worley told members of the City Council that “the majority of streets (in the city) were rated as good, very good or excellent.”
Since that time, Worley and his Public Works cohorts have been working to keep it that way.
At Tuesday night’s City Council study session, Worley was back at the podium, pitching a preservation project that would renovate a stretch of Evergreen Road between 16th and 32nd avenues. The upgrade would be coordinated with scheduled work by Vera Water and Power which has plans to install a waterline under the street later this year.
Following a presentation that included mostly supportive comments from around the dais, the Evergreen Road Preservation Project was approved by a unanimous 6-0 vote. Deputy Mayor Gary Schimmels was not present.
“I’m all for this project,” said Mayor Tom Towey who described Evergreen as “one of the major north/south arterials with its connection to the freeway” and applauded efforts “to strengthen the roadway.”
When Worley brought up the project at the study session on Jan. 31, the topic of expediency was raised by council members like Chuck Hafner.
“My gripe has been for road preservation,” Hafner said. “I think we need to look at roads that are worse than Evergreen.”
Deputy Mayor Gary Schimmels, countered, saying the city could benefit from the corresponding Vera project. Municipal costs for the work have been estimated at $684,000 – which includes additional sidewalk work – but the utility would compensate the city for its portion of the construction, somewhere in the vicinity of $275,000.
On Tuesday, Worley told council that the cost to add bike lane markings for the entire stretch of the street would likely run $20,000. An estimate of $53,000 would address widening the west side of the road between 16th and 24th avenues for the bike path.
Council Member Ben Wick voiced his support for upgrade, saying it aligned well with the city’s Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan, approved last year.
Worley noted that a range of factors – from traffic to weather conditions to when the road was built – “are taken into consideration when we evaluate streets in the Pavement Management Program.” He added that the opportunity for grants or collaboration with an utility like Vera have an influence on the roads that are renovated.
Council Member Arne Woodard called the portion of Evergreen from 24th to 32nd “one of the worst stretches of road in the city.” Worley also reassured Hafner – who again brought up the placement of Evergreen Road on the maintenance priority list – that the proposed project made the most sense for the city at this juncture. He added that the city’s street maintenance crews provide the most detailed information on roads in need of repair.
“They know more about our streets than our Pavement Management Program,” Worley said.