Richardson staff proposes no change to funding for street, alley projects in next year's budget

Localized concrete repairs help extend a street's useful life, according to city staff. (Courtesy city of Richardson)
Localized concrete repairs help extend a street's useful life, according to city staff. (Courtesy city of Richardson)

Localized concrete repairs help extend a street's useful life, according to city staff. (Courtesy city of Richardson)

Staff in the city of Richardson is proposing a conservative approach to upcoming street and alley maintenance due to fiscal uncertainties tied to the coronavirus.

The $4.2 million put toward road projects in fiscal year 2019-20 will remain flat; however, the city is moving some money around to accommodate necessary repairs. This is the third year in a row that funding will not be increased for street and alley maintenance.

Proposed street repair projects for the upcoming fiscal year include sections of Arapaho, East Buckingham and South Glenville roads as well as North Collins and Centennial boulevards. Staff is suggesting that roads within a designated zone of the Canyon Creek neighborhood also be addressed.

A multiyear plan to address all streets and alleys in Richardson was formalized in 2013. Each year, staff assesses the condition of arterial, collector and neighborhood roads to determine which segments are in most need of attention.

Almost 70% of streets in Richardson are over 31 years old, according to Shawn Poe, the city’s director of engineering and capital projects. The useful life of a concrete street is between 20 and 30 years, he added. To extend the useful life, the city performs annual maintenance and repairs.

Some road work planned for FY 2019-20 has been put on pause due to the pandemic, Poe said. Streets that are still in line for repairs include segments of Yale Boulevard, Richardson Drive, West Campbell Road and Apollo Road.

So far, Poe said the city has completed about 50% of the work budgeted for this year.

“We would like to be further along, but due to COVID-19 budgetary constraints, we wanted to pause a little bit and see what that is going to entail,” he said. “We will pick it back up later, once we get more information on revenues.”

The city’s ultimate goal is to protect good streets, improve fair streets and replace poor streets, Deputy City Manager Don Magner said in a 2019 interview with Community Impact Newspaper.

Oftentimes, the city is unable to immediately replace a failing street with full-depth concrete. Instead, crews pour asphalt to sustain the street until a concrete repair can be funded by a bond, Magner added.

“Asphalt, in our city, is an interim strategy, but sometimes, that period can be as long as 10 years,” he said. “Asphalt is never intended to be permanent, but it is used strategically to try and help us create an acceptable driving surface until that street can be replaced.”

There are four small segments of street where the city plans to activate this temporary bridging strategy beginning in August. Six additional segments are included in the upcoming year’s budget.

Council Member Steve Mitchell said he felt compelled to point out that this strategy is only used on streets that are already covered with asphalt.

“We are not putting new asphalt on streets that didn’t have it,” he said.

To accomplish these goals without exceeding last year’s funding, staff is proposing the city up its contribution to preventative maintenance and collector street repairs while lowering the amount of dollars funneled toward neighborhood streets and asphalt overlays.

“Typically [street and alley project funding] does increase with indexing, but there could be reason to use those funds elsewhere depending on the budget situation,” Poe said.

Alley repairs have also been delayed due to the pandemic. Of the 60 segments budgeted for repair, only 13 have been completed, Poe said.

Many of the city’s telecommunications lines are in alleyways, Poe said, so the city opted to minimize the possibility of internet disruptions due to the number of residents working from home.

The plan is to accelerate the remaining projects by hiring additional contractors, Poe said. Once alley projects ramp back up, the city will work with neighborhoods to provide a backup internet option, should there be an outage.

Staff is proposing the city budget $1.5 million for 83 additional alleyway projects in FY 2020-21. However, Poe said the city would finish its current-year projects before moving on to new areas.
By Olivia Lueckemeyer
Olivia Lueckemeyer graduated in 2013 from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in journalism. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 as reporter for the Southwest Austin edition before her promotion to editor in March 2017. In July 2018 she returned home to the Dallas area and became editor of the Richardson edition.