Rough roads ahead

More money needed to keep Minot street conditions from slipping

Jill Schramm/MDN Bechtold Paving paves a section of Hiawatha Street between 11th and 16th Avenues Aug. 17. The project was among maintenance work conducted by the City of Minot so far this year.

Almost $6 million a year is needed in street maintenance funding to keep the overall condition of Minot’s city streets from worsening, according to information provided to members of the Minot City Council Wednesday.

Lance Meyer, city engineer, reported on a street study and pavement improvement plan at the council’s committee session. He presented a five-year scenario showing what it would take to improve overall street conditions and to prevent further decline.

“We need a budget of $5.9 million a year to maintain the pavement conditions that we have today. Anything less and our pavement conditions will start to fall,” Meyer said.

The city has been spending about $3 million a year on maintenance. At $3 million a year, street conditions will continue to deteriorate as a backlog of projects occurs, Meyer reported. Even at nearly $6 million a year, a backlog would exist.

To eliminate the backlog in five years, the city would have to spend about $11.6 million a year, figures showed. Gradually ramping up the budget as has been proposed still leaves a backlog and causes the city to lose ground on overall pavement conditions, Meyer said.

“The good news is 75 percent of our pavement is in a good or satisfactory condition,” he said. “The bad news is our local streets, where most of our residents live, are in tough shape.”

Although 40 percent of streets are in good condition and 35 percent in satisfactory condition, Meyer said this reflects work done to maintain arterials, improve downtown and build new streets. It also includes a weighting toward arterials that carry more traffic. The streets that fall into fair or poor categories tend to be residential.

The majority of street problems are weather related, Meyer added, which is a sign the city isn’t sealing streets as often as it should.

“Our street improvement program takes so many dollars away from our street seal program that we just can’t keep up,” he said.

Simply patching roads leads to a rough ride over time, and this tends to be the situation on many residential streets, he said.

Meyer indicated the engineering department will continue to assess ways to cost effectively address maintenance. He also plans to meet with representatives of North Dakota’s other larger cities to share strategies on street management.