Road fix could cost Carpinteria millions
By Cat Neushul
Carpinteria is facing the grim reality of roads in need of costly repair, the city council learned at its April 14 meeting. A recent study of Carpinteria’s 28 miles of pavement conducted by Pavement Engineering Inc. indicates that roads are in fair condition now and deteriorating annually. The current PCI (Pavement Condition Index) of 67, or fair, is a step down from the 2010 average PCI of 74, or good. “Pavement goes really fast, when it starts to go,” said Joe Ririe, senior principal engineer for Pavement Engineering Inc.
In a crash course dubbed “Pavement 101,” Ririe outlined the factors that contribute to pavement deterioration, which include oxidation caused by exposure to sun and water and fatigue due to heavy loads. He compared a street to a bank account. He said that every trip along a road is like making a withdrawal. “If withdrawals happen too quickly, from heavier loads, then the pavement deteriorates,” he said.
City representatives identified several scenarios for future street maintenance. An expenditure of $2.58 million a year would maintain streets at a PCI of 81, or good. For $900,000 a year, the city could have streets that remain in the fair category. At this time, the city spends $300,000 a year for street maintenance. Funding currently comes from the Right-of-Way Assessment District, the Street Lighting District, Measure A, the Gas Tax and the city’s general fund.
In a unanimous decision, the city council passed a resolution to conduct a city right-of-way engineering study and appropriate $50,000 for its completion. The study will be used to identify the best strategies for maintaining city streets, and the other items considered a part of the right-of-way, which include benches, trashcans and decorative streetlights.
Charlie Ebeling, director of the Public Works Department said, “The idea behind this (the engineering study) is to start a conversation about where we stand with funding options.”
The city council also discussed other ways to fund pavement improvements, such as instituting a trench cut fee for utility companies. When utility companies cut into pavement to install lines, the process leads to pavement deterioration.
At the meeting, the council also voted unanimously to advertise for a bid for the Carpinteria Avenue Pavement Rehabilitation Project. By the end of the summer, the Department of Public Works has plans to refurbish the road along Carpinteria Avenue, from Linden Avenue to Carpinteria Creek Bridge, with a grind and overlay.
Grocery merger raises worries
The council also voted unanimously to send letters to state and federal agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission, to express concerns about the impending merger of Vons and Albertsons parent companies. Cerberus Capital Management, which currently owns the Albertsons chain, is in the process of acquiring Safeway. The merger would place the only two local supermarkets under the same ownership.
“Folks are understandably concerned that the lack of competition might lead to higher prices,” said City Manager Dave Durflinger. “We believe that the city is vulnerable to higher prices due to the fact that it is geographically isolated.”
Durflinger said that concerned letters could result in a variety of outcomes. “If it is determined that there is an anti-trust violation, there could be a settlement.” For example, Cerberus could be forced to sell one of the stores to a competing chain, he said. He also said it is possible that no action might be taken.