Cars utilizing the well-beaten tracks — or roads — in Montrose have made those streets a bit too beaten.
After hearing feedback to that effect from a 2016 survey, the City of Montrose is working to ensure repairs.
“There are a lot of towns that let their roads get into bad shape and it has bigger consequences far beyond the quality of life,” City Engineer Scott Murphy said. “You start getting businesses that don’t want to be in the town and things like that start hurting your economy.”
The study identified traffic congestion and road conditions were the biggest concerns for residents. The response, from 534 households, also indicated streets that include Hillcrest Drive, Niagara Road, Main Street, Rio Grande Avenue and Ogden Road as ones needing the most improvements.
The city has invested $5 million, via the Moving Montrose Forward Project, in hopes of achieving street infrastructure improvements. Work began this year and is set to conclude in 2019.
“A lot of the work we have going on right now is geared toward all that: street re-dos and reconstruction,” Murphy said.
Part of the project includes the South Hillcrest Drive extension which will help alleviate congestion and provide an alternate route to Townsend Avenue.
When the city has a major street project — like on Niagara Road and South Park Avenue — it also replaces the water lines underneath the roads, Murphy said. In most cases, the water pipes have lived their 40-50 year lifespan and are in danger of affecting the streets, he added.
“What we don’t want to do is pave a nice, new street and one year later an old water line breaks,” Murphy said. “Because then, with that water line we will have to tear up that nice, brand-new street. So we do a one shot to get them all nice and hope to not go back.”
The water line project is separate from Moving Montrose Forward, Murphy said, adding the former costs $2.5 million.
Murphy said the cost would be even higher if the roads are not properly maintained. He explained if a crew fixes a street early in its lifespan then it’ll be $1 per square yard, but if it isn’t treated right away then the cost is $10 for every square yard.
“It’s 10 times the cost to repair it if you go too far along,” Murphy said. “... We’re trying to stay ahead of a lot of the roads to keep them in good shape so they don’t hit that point of no return.”
The city uses a point system to identify the exact streets in need of the most work, Public Works Manager Jim Scheid said.
The roads’ state is gauged through Pavement Condition Index, or PCI, Scheid said, adding it’s a 0-100 point system that rates the asphalt condition and thickness. PCI can determine if a road needs a few fixes or to be ripped up entirely, he noted.
“We evaluate all of the streets in town and they all come up with a rating,” Scheid said. “Then we are able to see which streets are able to (be) maintained and extend (its) life or some of them need to be replaced.
“So we use a point system basis for selecting the roads that need to be maintained for next year.”
He added if the project needs major work — in this year’s case, Niagara and Hillcrest — the public works office will send it to a contractor.
Residential streets were also maintained, which encompass Pennsylvania Avenue and 67.00 Road, south of Niagara Road, Murphy said.
Scheid and his staff aren’t done seeing what roads need to be fixed. The streets to be repaired next year have yet to be determined, as staff is still finalizing the budget, Scheid indicated.
“They were projects allocated in that same (Moving Montrose Forward) project for 2019,” Scheid said. “So those roads will most likely be part of that project for next year. But it all depends (on) council approving the budget for it.”
Murphy reiterated by repairing the streets now, it’s going to be a win later for Montrose.
“It will (be better) for residents (as far as) the quality of life and the economic (value),” Murphy said. “So we are just really focused on maintaining the quality of life by the city’s ability to keep it in good shape.”
Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.