City on track to best its own goal on 2C 

Road show

click to enlarge 2C funded removal of a median on North Carefree Circle. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy City Of Colorado Springs
  • 2C funded removal of a median on North Carefree Circle.
Colorado Springs has spent about $150 million in the last three years to upgrade its crumbling road network under a special .62 percent sales tax approved by voters in 2015, known as 2C.

So far, the city remains on track to repave 1,068 lane miles of its 5,700-mile network — 68 miles more than the 1,000 miles initially promised — during the five-year program that started in 2016.

The 2C program, which focuses on heavily traveled collector and arterial roads, overlayed 214 lane miles the first year, 238 miles in 2017, and 225 miles in 2018. This year’s goal is 177 miles, and in 2020, crews will tackle 214 miles.

But none of those were residential streets, many of which haven’t been maintained at all in decades.

Hence, Mayor John Suthers is contemplating asking City Council in May, if he’s re-elected in the April 2 city election, to refer a measure to the November ballot asking voters’ permission to extend the program another five years.

Only this time, Suthers says, he’ll recommend asking for a .57 percent sales tax over five years and designating 80 percent of the funding for residential streets.

A poll conducted in mid-February shows 59 percent of a sample of likely voters are willing to support such a measure.

“I think it’s been a tremendous public works project,” Suthers tells the Indy. “Any time you take on something this large it takes an incredible amount of coordination.”

If it seems like the city isn’t making as much progress as promised, it’s because several steps are required before crews can actually repave a street, says Corey Farkas, public works operations and maintenance division manager. Those include a pavement analysis, replacing curb and gutter, and sometimes sidewalks, and milling off the old asphalt.

As Farkas explains, it’s pointless to repave a road if water seeps beneath it via curb and gutter cracks, undermining the road’s integrity.

Cartegraph from City of Colorado Springs on Vimeo.

“The last thing we want,” he says, “is to overlay the road and then have water infiltration to deteriorate that subgrade and expedite the deterioration of that roadway. We’re protecting the asset we’re spending taxpayer money for.”

In some cases, he adds, replacing curbs and gutters enables the city to alter a road’s grade to allow storm runoff to go into the city’s drainage system rather than pool on streets.

Also, a mill overlay isn’t considered maintenance by the federal government but rather a roadway alteration, he says, which requires that the city make sidewalks comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act by installing ramps.

Repaving that first 677 lane miles of arterial and collector roads required significant concrete work on road beds and curb, gutters and sidewalks, which added 93 miles of new curb and gutter, 195 miles of sidewalks and 382 pedestrian ramps.

By far the biggest challenge with 2C, Farkas says, is coordinating with other agencies that cut into the city’s streets.

Colorado Springs Utilities, for example, must maintain and repair water and sewer pipes and gas and electric lines that lie beneath the streets.

Farkas says the idea is to plan around scheduled maintenance of underground assets or installation of traffic signals, for example, that would tear up a freshly paved road. To that end, the city meets twice a month with the Colorado Department of Transportation, private contractors, Utilities, school districts and the city’s own stormwater department to avoid those situations.

While Utilities conducts condition assessments on its infrastructure to avoid having to rip into a freshly asphalted street, the process isn’t foolproof, and no one can control when or where a line might simply fail, Farkas says, but he notes that only 3 percent of streets paved so far have been marred by a fresh dig.

“We’re human and not perfect but we’re doing our best,” he says.

One controversial issue for the program centers on the warranty period. The city requires a two-year warranty on repaved streets, which Councilor Bill Murray and others argue isn’t long enough.

But Suthers counters that seeking a longer warranty drives the cost up, diminishing how many road miles the city could improve under 2C.

A City Auditor’s Office review of the 2C program’s first two years, issued in November 2018, found one asphalt segment required “rework” after a final inspection. Farkas says the segment in question, on eastbound Platte Avenue between Chelton Road and Academy Boulevard, was redone at the contractor’s expense after city inspectors found it deficient.
The idea of the 2C program, Farkas says, is to improve the street network’s condition so that roads’ longevity can be increased through regular maintenance.

“When you put in a brand new road,” he says, “you would expect that roadway could last 13 years. If you put in a new road in Colorado Springs with our climate [of frequent freeze-thaw cycles], you can expect that road to show cracking within one to two years.”

Crack sealing, which uses a liquid sealant material, and chip sealing, which spreads an aggregate material over a layer of liquid asphalt, are two ways to make roads more durable. “That’s why you do all these preventative measures — to take that 13 years and extend it out to 20 to 25 years,” Farkas says.

So how does the city decide which roads are the most needy? Previously, the city relied on its own pavement management assessment, which required physical inspections by workers who appraised a quarter of the city’s roads each year. In 2017, the city got a Cartegraph system — a vehicle equipped with cameras and sensors that gather data as it drives the city’s streets, ultimately rendering a Pavement Quality Index figure to demonstrate its condition. The goal now: to inspect all the city’s streets every three years.

What's to come

The 2019 overlay list includes the following roads:
• Carefree Circle Drive South from Powers Boulevard to Village Road
• Palmer Park Road from Academy Boulevard to Powers Boulevard
• South Chelton Road from Airport Road to Jet Wing Drive
• Austin Bluffs Parkway from Rangewood Drive to Woodmen Road
• Dublin Boulevard from Academy Boulevard to Rangewood Drive
• Union Boulevard from Briargate Parkway to Lexington Drive, from Briargate Boulevard to Woodmen, and from Fountain Boulevard to Highway 24
• Rockrimmon Boulevard from Vindicator Drive to Pro Rodeo Drive
• Briargate Parkway from Powers Boulevard to Voyager Parkway
• Stetson Hills Boulevard from Austin Bluffs to Charlotte Parkway
• Lexington Drive from Briargate Parkway to Briargate Boulevard


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