Berkeley Streets Could Be Due for Repaving With City's Five-Year Plan

Photo: Berkeley roads currently have many cracks, which have drawn complaints from residents. They could find less bumps on their roads in the future as a part of the city's 5-year plan.
Shirin Ghaffary/Photo
Berkeley roads currently have many cracks, which have drawn complaints from residents. They could find less bumps on their roads in the future as a part of the city's 5-year plan.

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Berkeley residents and visitors could be traveling down smoother streets this fiscal year as sections of city roads - a large portion of which are in District 7, which encompasses the UC Berkeley campus - are scheduled to be repaved as part of the city's street rehabilitation program.

The city's Public Works Department met last week regarding the status of its 5-Year Street Rehabilitation Plan, which organizes and schedules all street repaving and construction to occur within the next five years. This year, $2.8 million has been allocated to the plan, of which $2.3 million is from the city's general fund and $500,000 is from Measure B, which implements a half-cent sales tax to fund transportation in Alameda County.

The need for street repaving is determined by the city's Public Works Department, which, conducts extensive studies on streets following resident complaints. The studies are based on the number of potholes and condition of the pavement, among other factors, according to Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

Proposed projects also receive priority if they involve bicycle or bus transit routes. Councilmember Darryl Moore said most complaints about poor street conditions come from cyclists because they are the most directly affected.

"In some cities it's more of a question of who has got the most political juice," Worthington said. "We have a system where it's based on need ... some streets get used more heavily."

According to city documents, four of the 13 street sections scheduled to be rehabilitated are in District 7 - which Worthington represents - according to city documents. There are eight districts in the city.

In years before the recent economic downturn, the city granted additional one-time general fund allocations - as high as $1 million dollars in 2008 according to a city staff report - though no such funding came this fiscal year.

Street rehabilitation funds may be boosted following the Nov. 2 elections if voters approve the Alameda County Vehicle License Fee, which would allocate 60 percent of the fee's funds to street repaving across the county.

But according to Councilmember Gordon Wozniak, some of this year's projects were not finished and others were delayed.

"This year, we're working with the bare bones and doing the bare necessities," Worthington said.

Although the program is designed to rehabilitate streets that are most in need of repair, Wozniak said some streets, including sections of Milvia Street and Panoramic Way, are left out of this year's program and "desperately need repaving."

"(Milvia) has an awful lot of small potholes and a very rough surface," he said. "It's one of the worst streets in Berkeley."

He added that delays in street rehabilitation accelerate deterioration and increase the amount of construction that would have to be done in the future.

But he also said re-working portions of the city one at a time allows contractors to work more efficiently when they encounter problem areas.

"You get more bang for your buck," Wozniak said.

City staff are also looking into more durable forms of street pavement to decrease the frequency and cost of rehabilitation, Wozniak said. For example, a more permeable pavement would allow water to soak into the soil beneath it, preventing floods during rainstorms and possibly lasting more than 100 years without repair, he said.


Daniel Means covers city government. Contact him at [email protected]

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