Prince George Making Strides on Road Rehab
Prince George B.C. – It’s been a long road since a survey of BCAA members in 2011, marked Prince George as having the worst road in all of B.C. That was the year, Ospika Boulevard topped the list of worst roads in the province because of broken pavement.
The following year, four roads in Prince George made the top ten worst in the Province, with Domano Boulevard being ranked second (just behind Westside Road in Kelowna) Tabor Boulevard came in third, Massey Drive was number 6 and 15th Avenue was #7.
Since then, the City of Prince George has spent a lot of money on road rehab. Last year, $7 million dollars went towards fixing pavement with 66 lane kilometres upgraded. The investments seem to be paying off with the number of pothole repairs from January to late March showing a steep decline compared to previous years.
From January 1st to March 21st this year, there had been 1530 potholes filled. That is just a fraction of the number filled during the same time period in each of the previous two years:
-4981 potholes filled in same period in 2016
-7133 potholes filled in same period in 2015
Mick Jones, the City’s Supervisor of Road Operations says the weather has played a factor in the decline in needed pothole repairs, saying there has been less rain, and fewer freeze- thaw incidents.
Mayor Lyn Hall agrees with that, but adds the budget commitment has also been a factor “The money we’ve been putting into roads in the last three or four years has made a big difference.”
In 2012, the City had budgeted $3.5 million dollars. That amount was boosted to $5.18 million in 2013, and then increased again in 2014 to $7million as the gas tax revenue was added to the roads budget.
In the past three years alone, the City has spent $21 million on road rehab “It was an opportunity for us to play catch-up, it was an opportunity for us to put more dollars into maintenance in the fall and particularly in the spring” says Mayor Lyn Hall. He adds that maintenance has been a key factor “The maintenance piece was huge for us to start seeing some benefits from it. When you put that kind of money into it, you hope you won’t see as much work that has to be done year to year.”
He says the new $225,000 Bagela Asphalt Recycler will allow earlier maintenance to be done before the asphalt plants are up and running, which is usually around mid May. The recycler is also expected to make those pothole patches last longer.
This year, the City is spending less on road rehab, $5 million instead of the $7 million spent annually in recent years. The $2 million dollar difference has been split between Parks ($1 million) and sidewalks. $400 thousand will be spent on new sidewalks, and $600 thousand for sidewalk upgrades. Mayor Hall says he wants to review that road rehab budget reduction during the next budget cycle “For me, this was a one year shot. You take two million off roads and put a million into parks and a million into sidewalks. I am confident we are going to be ok, but I want to take a look at it, next budget cycle just to be sure and hear from our staff about the roads and what it meant to drop it ( the budget) to five.”