It’s transportation week here at CDNews! Yesterday I mentioned that we had made an inquiry on 23rd and whether it would be getting any love from the city’s Bridging the Gap levy. This morning the helpful folks at SDOT wrote back with an update.
The bottom line: 23rd is in such bad shape that it will require more than your usual paving job. City engineer Ben Hansen says that large sections all the way from Jackson to Montlake need to be completely dug up and rebuilt from scratch. That’s an expensive proposition, and SDOT’s current strategy is to tackle the smaller projects first to make sure a few big projects don’t monopolize all of the available funding. In the meantime, report pot holes to the city and they’ll try to patch things up.
Also: SDOT spokeswoman Marybeth Turner tells me that there is a long-term plan for a reconfiguration of 23rd to include bike lanes, but it’s also currently unscheduled. And in Bike News: We’re going to be getting some cool new on-street bicycle parking on 12th in front of Cafe Presse.
Here’s the full response from Mr. Hansen:
In late 2006, voters passed the Proposition 1 “Bridging the Gap” ballot measure, which provides new funding to address basic transportation maintenance such as paving. On its arterials alone, Seattle has a backlog of over $300 million in deferred maintenance; streets where the condition indicates a paving need but no funds are available to complete a project. The conditions along 23rd are a good example of what deferred maintenance looks like on the ground. It has taken a long time to accumulate this backlog and it will take some time to work it off. We can not meet all the need immediately, so work is prioritized taking into account condition, rehabilitation cost, transit use, traffic volumes, and several other criteria.
We agree with you that 23rd is in need of paving, but a project is still several years off. Part of the challenge on 23rd is the cost of the rehabilitation. Large sections between Jackson and Montlake need to be dug up and completely reconstructed from the ground up. It is much more expensive to reconstruct streets than to resurface them. If we began with the worst streets, which need reconstruction, then the overall condition of Seattle’s street network would continue to decline because we would be spending a lot of money to fix a few select locations. Greater benefit is delivered to the public by first resurfacing and preserving existing pavements, deferring major reconstructions until we have completed the preservation work. You will note that we have recently completed projects of this nature on E Madison St and on S Jackson St.
Until a major project moves forward on 23rd, we will continue to patch potholes as necessary. You can request pothole repairs to specific locations by calling the SDOT Street Maintenance dispatcher at (206) 386-1218, or visiting http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/potholereport.htm. We respond promptly to these requests, usually within 48 hours.