Friday, February 25, 2005

Report: Fairfield winning war on potholes

Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 - 11:57:37 pm PST

By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - Take a drive around Fairfield and you'll be on some of the Bay Area's smoothest roads.

That's the verdict of the latest "Bay Area Transportation State of the System" report. Fairfield's war on potholes met with a fair amount of success in comparison with the region's other communities.

Fairfield ranked ninth among 106 Bay Area counties and cities in pavement quality, with the top spot being the best. The data is for the year 2003.

"We're just trying to keep up with the areas that are old and deteriorating," Fairfield Street Manager Bill Norvas said.

City inspectors look at the roads each year. The information is fed into a computer, which calculates condition on a scale of one to 100, with 100 the best. This is the same scale the "State of the System" report uses.

Fairfield's score for 2003 is 80. The city with the best roads in the Bay Area, Oakley, had a score of 87.

Among the street maintenance projects Fairfield wants to do this year is Second Street from Texas Street to Utah Street, Norvas said. The road is bumpy because of trenches dug for water and sewer line replacements, he said.

Another is Neitzel Road going to Costco, Norvas said. This road gets a lot of truck traffic, he said. Heavy trucks cause wear and tear on pavement.

Fairfield's goal is to spend $4 million annually on street maintenance and resurfacing. The latest city budget, completed two years ago, shows Fairfield spending an average of $2.8 million annually through the decade.

Even this might be a hard goal to meet. As in other cities, Fairfield officials have talked about possible budget cuts in coming years. The city is looking at putting a local sales tax measure on the November ballot.

"I don't know what's going to happen when we hit 2005-06," Norvas said. "We just have to wait and see."

MTC estimates a $2.9 billion backlog in the Bay Area for street repairs. That's how much it would cost to improve streets to the point where they are cost-effective to maintain.

Vacaville also ranked high in the pavement ratings. Its score of 73 placed it 25th among Bay Area cities and counties.

Vallejo ranked lowest in Solano County and among the lowest in the Bay Area. Its score of 54 ranked 100th among Bay Area cities and counties. The lowest-ranked community is rural Sonoma County, with a score of 47.

MTC described scores of 75 to 100 as pavement that has no distress and requires preventive maintenance. Scores of 45 to 74 show pavement that offers acceptable rides, but the roads are worn to the point where work is needed to prevent rapid deterioration.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

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