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Complaints about the poor condition of roads in Citrus Heights are often voiced by residents and have also been noted by the city’s mayor and council members at a recent forum. So what’s the plan for repaving roads in town, and why hasn’t it happened earlier?
“Lack of funding,” is the answer given by City Operations Manager Regina Cave, as to why many roads in Citrus Heights are long-overdue for repaving. While noting there’s federal and state funding available for capital projects along major streets, like Auburn and Sunrise Boulevards, she said residential repaving is not as fortunate.
“We’ve got capital projects on arterials, (but) those are the projects that receive federal funding,” said Cave in an interview last Friday. “Residential streets do not receive federal or state funding for resurfacing.”
But using new funding from SB 1, the controversial $52 billion “gas tax” passed by the state legislature last year that is facing possible repeal by voters this November, Cave said the first set of streets in Citrus Heights are slated to be repaved this fall. The City received about $500,000 in “direct allocation” funding through SB 1 for the last fiscal year, and those funds are set to help pave six sections of residential streets, totaling a distance of 1.3 miles.
Which streets are on the list?
- Auburn Frontage, from Cobalt Way to west end.
- Catamaran Drive, from Tupelo Drive to city limit.
- Knisley Court, from Sadro Street to end.
- Tareyton Way, from Ansbrough Drive to Cobalt Way.
- Baranga Drive, from Winlock Avenue to Cobalt Way.
- Capricorn Drive, from Pleides Avenue to Mariposa Avenue.
Cave said street repaving is prioritized based on the condition of pavement, which is ranked on a “pavement condition index” scale of 1-100, with 100 being the best condition possible. The six streets all had rankings of 25. The total cost to repave those streets is $722,905, which the City Council will consider approving next week.
While 1.3 miles of repaving is a step forward, it represents far less than 1% of the City’s approximately 465 miles of paved lanes.
Additional streets are planned for resurfacing next spring, but Cave said the total number of streets “will depend on the results of Prop 6,” referring to the proposition seeking to repeal the gas tax.
Why did it take this long to have SB 1 funds used?
For fiscal year 2018-19, Citrus Heights is projected to receive $1.44 million from SB 1 funds, which Cave said the City intends to allocate exclusively towards residential repaving.
While the City began receiving SB 1 funds at the beginning of 2018, Cave said the money comes in month-by-month rather than in a lump sum, causing the City to wait until enough funds came in to pool together for the first project. She also said the industry has seen an increase in construction costs in the past year-and-a-half, which has caused the City “to increase our engineers estimates dramatically to try to account for higher bids.”
Additional SB 1 funds in the form of grants have also been received by the City for current projects already underway, including a $190,000 grant to fund an Old Auburn Complete Streets Study, $109,000 for Phase 4 of the Mariposa Avenue Safe Routes to School project, and $180,000 for a “Multi-Modal Transportation Safety Program.” The majority of funding for a $7 million multi-use trail project from Wachtel Way to Sunrise Boulevard, known as the “Electric Greenway” project, will also come from an SB 1-funded grant.
What happens if SB 1 gets repealed?
Cave said a “Plan B” has not been fully considered, but confirmed any money already received by the City will remain in the City’s coffers and won’t have to be returned. However, she said projects like the Electric Greenway could be “severely impacted” if SB 1 is repealed, due to funding for construction not having yet been received.
Even if the gas tax is repealed by voters, Cave estimates the City would still get about $600,000 in its direct allocation funds from SB 1 for the current fiscal year, since those funds will continue to come in each month through November.
Funds for road repair and maintenance would also still come in through Measure A, the county-wide half-cent sales tax renewed for 30 years by voters in 2004, which Cave says has given the City a little over $1.5 million each year for helping fund transportation maintenance, operations contracts and related staff time. She said the last residential repaving project was completed in 2016.
Citrus Heights Mayor Steve Miller, who is up for election this year, said during a recent candidate forum he expects SB 1 will be repealed by voters in November, but said additional funding will be available for road repaving in 2022, when the City’s 25-year “revenue neutrality” agreement with Sacramento County ends and an additional $5-6 million in revenue from property taxes is able to be allocated by the City.
Asked how the additional funding should be spent or invested, all five candidates for City Council this year said a portion of the property tax revenue should go towards road repair, as well as replenishing reserves.
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