Road Pavement Conditions May Deteriorate

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By Kim Siebert MacPhail

Public Works Director Rich Warrington presented a report to the Capital Expenditures Committee on Wednesday night that demonstrated the need for increased funding to maintain today’s level of road conditions. Saying that materials costs have risen substantially and that the current annual allocation of $1.1M is inadequate to maintain road quality, Warrington referred to an analysis by Faye, Spofford, and Thorndike (FST), an engineering firm Bedford has contracted with to assess road pavement conditions.In that analysis, FST stated that an annual sum closer to $2M is necessary, merely to not lose ground.

In 2006, Bedford contracted with FST to regularly assess and target areas for pavement maintenance work. The company indexed conditions on 7.7 miles of state highway, 7.5 miles of private roadway and 71.8 public miles within the town and at that time arrived at an index level of 59(fair conditions/preventative maintenance) out of 100 (perfect conditions). The Town at that point determined that an index level of 73 was desirable, and has since improved conditions to an index level of 62.  Further movement toward the goal, however, has been impeded by rising materials costs.

In 2012, when FST conducted its most recent analysis, it reported that that if all roads in Bedford were to be brought up to an index level of 100, the total cost for such a backlog in pavement repair would equal $11,271,957. This estimate is for pavement repair only; the amount “does not include related repair costs for utilities, drainage, sidewalk, curbing, signals, or signs.”

Further, continuing FST projects under the current $1.1M allocation for annual pavement maintenance would represent a decline in road conditions, resulting in lowering Bedford’s pavement index number from the current 62 to 52 by 2017. Increasing the annual allocation to $1.5M would result in only a small improvement, to an index number of 54,whereas increasing the allocation to $2M is estimated to merely maintain the current index number of 62.

On a more positive note, Warrington reported that for FY14, Bedford has received “an unprecedented amount of Chapter 90 funds” which are monies granted to municipal projects by the state, designated specifically for roadway projects. These Chapter 90 funds have made it possible to substantially reduce the amount of the DPW request from Capital Expenditures for road maintenance for next year.

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