Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Roadways in the Area 'Very Good'

Roadways in the Area 'Very Good'
By Jason Massad/Staff Writer

While it might come as a surprise to some local motorists, three cities in northern Solano County rank near the top in a survey of the best maintained roads and streets in the Bay Area.

The city of Dixon, in fact, ranked behind only Brentwood, the unincorporated area of Contra Costa County, and Los Altos in the survey, which assessed pavement condition for 2004 across more than 100 municipalities and unincorporated areas in the Bay Area.

Fairfield and Vacaville pavement conditions garnered the label of "very good." The survey was included in the Metropolitan Transportation

Commission's recently released annual report, called "State of the System 2005."

But while some jurisdictions received high marks for their road conditions, it was more common in the Bay Area to see a deterioration of streets and roads, the report states.

"We note with some concern that the pavement condition on the Bay Area's 19,000 miles of local streets and roads got a little bumpier in '04 - as they have in each of the last three years," reads the report.

"This trend suggests Bay Area jurisdictions are not spending the money necessary to maintain the condition of local roadways ... over time."

The city of Benicia pulled in "good" marks for its pavement conditions.

The unincorporated area of Solano County and Suisun City were ranked in the

bottom third of the Bay Area with "fair" marks. The city of Vallejo and the city of Rio Vista also ranked "fair."

Local transportation officials say that streets and roads have been tough to maintain the last several years due to the rising costs of road materials and declining revenues for road repair.

Even with those difficult conditions, the city of Fairfield has found a way to maintain its roads so that they rank near the top of the Bay Area.

Numerous roads around the city have been resurfaced in the last several years.

For instance, Second Street between Texas Street and Travis Boulevard was redone recently, city officials said. Fairfield also has improved roads as it replaces its water and sewer system in a large area west of Penn-

sylvania Avenue and north of Texas Street.

The brand new roads in new housing developments also help growing cities like Fairfield remain atop the rankings.

"It's nice. I don't know that we brag about it," said

Charlie Beck, public works director, commenting on the city's status. "But it is something that we are proud of."

In regard to Solano County's unincorporated area ranking in the bottom third of Bay Area jurisdictions, Paul Wise, a top county transportation manager, said that Solano County struggles to maintain 480 paved miles with revenues that have not risen over the last several years.

While revenues have remained static, the price of asphalt, closely linked to fuel prices, has risen 67 percent since 1999. Put another way, the county resurfaced 6.8 miles of road this year. If the price of asphalt had remained at 1999 levels, the county could have resurfaced 11.3 miles of road.

"We've had to reduce the amount of overlay substantially," Wiese said. "We're squeezed on both ends."

The situation makes it tough to maintain even the heavily traveled county roads, including Vanden, Peabody, Peaceful Glen and Pleasants Valley near Vacaville, Wiese said.

"The reality, based on the current climate is to not let it deteriorate any further," he said.

Jason Massad can be reached at

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