Petaluma began a project to pave 21 streets last week, addressing some of the Bay Area’s worst pavement with an infusion of new state gas tax dollars that are projected to increase next year.
For the first time, the city used funds from SB1, the state gas tax increase, in a $1.1 million pavement project that will span from east side residential neighborhoods to the downtown core. Crews are tackling some of the city’s worst roads with a sealant designed to extend the life of the pavement by six years, or in some cases, laying down a new 2-inch bed of asphalt, according to Dan St. John, the city’s public works director.
“We are trying to use our limited funding to keep our fair roads in relatively good condition,” he said. “It’s like doing triage. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.”
American Asphalt, Repair, and Resurfacing Company, Inc. of Hayward won the contract that included $300,000 from SB1 funds. St. John said that the city expects to receive more than $1 million from SB1 next year, assuming it is not repealed.
State Republicans have succeeded in placing a measure on the November ballot that would repeal the 12-cent gas tax increase the Legislature approved last year.
“If it wasn’t for SB1 funds, we wouldn’t be doing this project,” St. John said. “We are seeing the benefits of SB1.”
Roads on the list for paving this summer include Caulfield Lane, Corona Road, 4th and 6th streets and Ramona Lane. Next year, with a larger share of money, St. John said city engineers are looking at replacing parts of Sonoma Mountain Parkway that have fallen into disrepair.
During the project, which is expected to wrap up by the end of September, motorists may experience increased traffic as lanes are closed. But, St. John said, the street network will be slightly improved as the city chips away at a $190 million backlog of road repairs.
Also included in the project are curb and ramp repairs, sidewalk and driveway improvements and new signage and striping.
Besides gas tax money, the city also receives pavement funding from franchise fees paid by Recology, the garbage hauler, and from Measure M, the countywide sales tax for transportation projects. Officials are considering whether to ask voters in November to extend the sales tax with a greater share going toward local roads since the Highway 101 widening project is fully funded.
Even with new revenue sources, current spending levels won’t transform the city’s street network into top shape, St. John cautioned. He said the city should be spending $6 million to $9 million annually to get the streets into good condition, and he said the city needed a new revenue stream to get there. Officials have largely backed off any significant tax measure on the November ballot.
“We’re not going to completely solve the problem,” he said. “We are going to continue to struggle until we increase the funding.”
(Contact Matt Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
SUMMER PAVING PROJECT
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