Tuesday, February 22, 2011

City Streets Get Stuck With Middling Scores, Residents Can Check Pavement Status

Broderick Street, recently repaved in NOPA

San Francisco streets sometimes seem smoother, especially if stretches of your regular route get resurfaced. But anyone who bikes 2nd street in SOMA or bumps along Hayes in NOPA knows too many city streets are stuck in a delayed maintenance mode. In fact, San Francisco streets can’t get out of the middling range of smoother, safer streets, and the current budget crunch offers little hope of major change anytime soon. The city’s average remains at 64 -- below the state average and not close enough to the best practice level of 70 where regular maintenance can minimize repair costs.

A new digital map lets residents check the surface status of the nearly 850 blocks that the city maintains. Anyone who travels along blocks with recurring sinkholes, multiple utility cuts, and too many potholes repaired too many times can expect to find those blocks in the red zone. Blocks in black have recently been paved or remain in good condition years after the resurfacing. Orange and blue blocks are in-between. The map reveal a block's pavement condition and an accompanying chart (below) indicates the likely cost of repair, paving, or reconstruction.

For NOPA readers, the several orange blocks of Hayes between Shrader and Broderick would likely cost just under $100,000 to "mill and fill." But the four red blocks of Fulton from Masonic to Broderick bring a tab ranging from $138,000 to $436,000 each. Right there is reason enough for not letting orange blocks turn red through delayed maintenance.

PCI ScoreMap colorAssociated TreatementCost/Block
100-85BlackNo action needed-
84-64BlueMaintenance: crack or slurry seals are used to repair distress and reinforce weakened pavement$9,000
63-50OrangeResurfacing: surface layer is grinded and filled with a new layer (mill and fill)$97,800
49-0RedReconstruction: surface layer is grinded, base is repaired, surface layer is replaced (mill and fill w/base repair)$138,000 – $436,400
Image: ONESF, Building Our Future

BIKE NOPA’s first few posts focused on condition of our neighborhood streets in the summer of 2009. Since then the Divisadero makeover with new pavement has made the greatest difference in the neighborhood. The smoother, quieter, and safer travel there reflects some of the benefits that will come to Masonic when the Municipal Transportation Agency approves the Boulevard street design proposal.

A few blocks of Baker and Broderick have also been re-paved since 2009, although Broderick between Fell and Hayes has languished between the usual "mill and fill” phases. The Public Utility Commission finished underground repairs in December and left the surface scraped, or milled, but the fill with new asphalt has yet to occur two months later. DPW has made the re-paving a priority.

Everyone can help keep city streets in better shape by reporting problems they encounter. Better to get a simple pothole or wide crack filled now than wait until the damage increases and the costs spiral further. Call 311 to report street defects or file reports online.

* Second Street between Market and King has one of the worst PCI scores in the South of Market, and the city plans to repave it in the summer of 2012. Since 2nd is frequently used by bicyclists, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Good Roads Campaign has urged the city to patch-pave large sections of the street to reduce the current hazardous conditions. The Department of Public Works expects to begin the repairs during the next several days.

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