Road repairs. Pay me now or pay me much more later

As the topic of Mission Viejo’s neglected road maintenance was addressed in the Mission Viejo Dispatch  I chose not to cover this topic until now. However, we are not the only media watching this issue. The California Progress Report has just posted a story relating to the need to invest in our roadway infrastructure maintenance.

While this is surely not the case in Mission Viejo, the city that spent almost $450,000 for an “outhouse” for a “party of two” at Melinda Park, we demand that our roads be maintained. What the city staff has just admitted is that many years ago, way back in the 1990-1992 time frame, they made a management decision relating to cutting corners so that the reserves for maintaining our roads were used for other CIP’s.

Now the chickens have come back to roost. In doing so they gambled and pushed out our road maintenance schedule from 5 years to a 7 year cycle which leads to the title, pay me now, or pay me much more later. That’s a 40 percent maintenance stretchout

UPDATE: March 18th Register reports that the city of Laguna Niguel is”dipping into their reserves designated for street projects to maintain the fourth year  of the city’s five year neighborhood street resurfacing project.” It’s called priorities. Infrastructure over artwork. For me it’s a no brainer.   

After today’s breakfast meeting with local watchdog Joe Holtzman, on the way back home he drove me around my own housing track pointing out local streets that had numerous cracks, which in some cases were several yards in length. Some up to two inches wide and seven inches deep.

A group of Mission Viejo citizens have been driving around the city taking photos of those streets requiring repairs and notifying City Manager Dennis Wilberg. He has now retained Ben’s Paving contractors whose crews we observed cutting out defective areas and patching some of those streets this morning.

Yes, it was acceptable to take up to $400,000 out of our reserves for a useless Rose Parade float or spend who knows how much to add pilasters with changeable artwork on our major arterials while neglecting both our streets and slopes.  We were advised of one report that it will require $85 million to fix our roads.  Fixing streets is not sexy.  You don’t win awards for street repairs as we did for spending close to one million dollars for a sidewalk at the entrance to our lake. Larry, that is not a sidewalk, it’s a Lake Promenade. The only thing lower than our streets would be sewer repairs.

As a result of the Mission Viejo Dispatch coverage the city manager is now asking the same watchdogs he criticized during the recall of Lance MacLean to be watchdogs on the lookout for streets needing repairs. An easier solution might be to have the drivers of our own fleet of city trucks keep their eyes open or ask Waste Management drivers to report their observations as they service every one of our 34,000 dwelling units.

Following is part of the CA Progress Report:

Clear Need to Reinvest in Public Institutions & Infrastructure after Participant on 260-Mile March for California’s Future Turns

Created 03/17/2010 – 8:23am
Willie Pelote

Repairs for broken roads and environmental protection can now be added to the list of improvements needed in California alongside jobs and assistance for families losing their homes.

Los Angeles probation officer and Central Vally émigré Irene Gonzalez, who is participating in a 48-day trek from Bakersfield to Sacramento to highlight the need for quality public services and education in California, sprained her ankle Saturday two miles outside of Tulare.

The accident occurred on a severely cracked and pock-marked road along Highway 99 that is surrounded on either side by a wasteland of empty fields contaminated by agricultural runoff.

“I remember that there was a really bad smell along that road,” said Gonzalez, an executive board member of the American Federation of State County&Municipal Employees’ (AFSCME) local 685. “There was this green, smelly, mossy water coming out of pipes and going right into these fields we were walking next to. Then I took a wrong step on the street, because it’s really messed up, and I just kept going and didn’t think about it, and I just pushed myself to the limit, but once I stopped, I felt some really sharp pain, and I couldn’t go forward. When I took off my shoe, the whole inside of my left foot was swollen.”

The broken roads and environmental pollution encountered by Gonzalez and her fellow marchers are the legacy of Sacramento’s misplaced priorities and the lack of revenue created by the decision to allow the wealthiest among us to shirk their financial responsibilities.

“It is ironic that I hurt my foot on this literally cracked street while marching to find solutions to the problems we have in California,” said Gonzalez. “All the budget cuts have really taken their toll on the people and on the state’s infrastructure over the years. That’s why we need to restore quality public education and public services, rebuild a government that serves all Californians, and create a fair tax system to fund our state’s future. Otherwise, the final casualty will be the California dream.”

Gonzalez said she has been resting her ankle and icing it.

Gilbert note. Stories and photos of the earlier reported cracks can be viewed on the Dispatch

About Larry Gilbert