Proposal cuts contract paving for the next 5 years
The Portland Bureau of Transportation may include a provision in their five-year budget forecast to cut contracts for street re-paving.
While the proposal would cut contract street paving, PBOT would continue to do “in-house” paving. Contract paving is done for particularly large projects and the city is required by law, because of the budget, to put it out to bid to private contractors.
The PBOT’s budget for the 2011–12 fiscal year is about $250 million. One third of the Bureau’s paving budget is for contract paving while the remaining two thirds is for in-house paving. In contrast, four–fifths of the total miles of paving is done in-house, while the remaining fifth is done by independent contractors.
The city of Portland has over 4,000 lane-miles of road. A lane mile is a 12-foot wide, one-mile long lane. According to Cheryl Kuck, spokesperson for PBOT, contract paving usually includes 10 lane-miles per year while in-house operations include 50 lane-miles per year.
The fate of streets in particular states of disrepair, such as lower Southeast Division Street, Naito Parkway and Southwest Macadam Avenue, is unclear, as the bureau has not yet decided the budget or projects.
In an email interview, Kuck wrote that the bureau will “still plan to do some road re-paving, but it will be done in-house. They will be smaller projects.”
“We are looking at about $16 million in ongoing cuts to our general transportation revenue, which is our discretionary (or flexible) spending dollars,” wrote Kuck. “The primary source of those dollars is the state highway fund/gas tax revenues. State highway fund/gas tax revenues are used to fund our maintenance and operations programs and services.”
According to Kuck, the tax money from the state gas tax was about 7 percent lower than projections, which has affected the bureau’s budget. Many factors contribute to this decrease in revenue, and Kuck postulates it could be the changes in the ratio of Portland residents to the number of vehicle registrations.
“The proportion of Oregonians living in Portland has decreased over time. The number of vehicle registrations in Multnomah County has decreased over time; therefore, Portland’s share of the gas tax revenue allocation from the county has decreased over time,” said Kuck.
Roger Averbeck, chair of the transportation committee of Southwest Neighborhoods Inc., said that street paving is an issue, and that there are many miles of unpaved streets not maintained by the city or the state as areas downtown tend to be prioritized. Averbeck said that other funding options should be considered.
The new budget is in the development process and is not yet finalized. The 2012–13 fiscal year and five-year budget forecast are not due until Jan. 30. After that, there will be City Council sessions and public hearings from February to May discussing the budget for the PBOT and other City of Portland bureaus. The mayor will release the proposed budget in May and the City Council will vote on it in June.
After Jan. 30, the city’s Office of Management and Finance will make the budget documents available online.
“We have a responsibility to submit a balanced budget,” said Kuck. “Our current financial situation requires making difficult choices based on clear priorities of providing a safe transportation system for all travel modes and making strategic capital investments that serve multiple modes.”
“Regarding the streets that will not be paved this year or next year due to budget cuts–we expect them to still be functional in five years,” said Kuck. “We consider the condition of the asset and the risk associated with various levels of maintenance.”
In the printed version of the Vanguard, the title on page 5, where is article is continued, states “Proposal puts potholes and re-paving on 5-year hold”. Not only is this not backed by any information in the article, it is also in direct contradiction with other publish reports that I have read about the suspension of some repaving projects. Those news sources state “Under this current proposal, potholes would still get filled no matter where they occurred…”. Please check your facts and don’t place information in article heading that are not actually reported in the story.