By: Anne Ternus-Bellamy | Davis Enterprise
The city of Davis has a path forward for fixing its worst-in-the-region roads and bike paths under a plan approved by the City Council on Tuesday.
The plan was devised by a subcommittee of Councilman Dan Carson and Mayor Gloria Partida — along with city staff and consultants — and aims to bring roads and bike paths up to the standards set by the city back in 2013.
Not only was that goal — a pavement condition index of 63 for roads and 68 for bike paths — not met, but in January the council learned conditions had deteriorated to a PCI of 57 for roads and 52 for bike paths. The city’s roads, the council was told, were worse than every other city in the area, including that of Winters, Woodland, West Sacramento, Dixon and Sacramento.
Carson and Partida were tasked with finding a way to turn things around and pay for it.
Their recommendations, approved unanimously Tuesday, include a plan for funding the estimated $84 million cost over the next 10 years in part through a combination of increased General Fund money, unallocated funds from other projects, community enhancement funds and more. About $53 million is already available for the work, Carson said, leaving a $31 million gap that would be filled the following ways:
* Taking into account new money that is already going towards pavement rehabilitation efforts. That includes $3.5 million in funding the council approved for pavement work that went unspent in 2019-20 and $300,000 per year already earmarked to offset road damage from garbage trucks ($10.1 million)
* Investing additional General Fund money into roads and bike paths once the current recession is over. ($12.1 million)
* Directing a share of uncommitted special funds to road and bike path rehabilitation projects. These include transportation funds such as gas tax revenues that the city receives and which are usually left unallocated for unanticipated transportation needs. ($6 million)
* Directing a share of uncommitted community enhancement funds to pavement rehabilitation. The city regularly collects one-time funding from developers of housing and commercial projects that would be used in part for pavement work that benefits residents who live in or near those projects and the community as a whole. ($2.8 million)
City tax rates would not be increased, Carson noted, but additional revenues generated from economic development projects would be redirected to road and bike path repair.
The plan assumes the recession will end by 2023-24, allowing increased General Fund revenue to flow towards roads and bike paths after that, and may result in fewer dollars available for other new programs or projects. However, said Partida, “It doesn’t mean that we will never have anything new or nice, but it does mean that we have to take care of things (that need it most first).”
Carson said the plan is not “a fake promise”; rather, he said, it is a 10-year plan, laid out in detail.The council will make the funding decisions in each budget it passes, said Carson, and the city’s Finance and Budget Commission will play an active role in seeing the plan implemented. “At the end, the roads will be at the goal we set,” he said. His colleagues on the council were supportive of the plan and appreciative of the work that Carson, Partida and city staff put into it.
Unlike flashier items that might garner more public attention and media coverage, “this is the real nuts and bolts,” said Councilman Will Arnold.
“This is one of the fundamental, essential services that a local government provides along with public safety and water in, water out.
“And to be able to create a pathway to achieving a benchmark that was set years ago and which very recently we had been discouraged that we would be able to achieve… to have a very detailed plan set up for that, I’m just so pleased to be a part of it, so thankful for the work.”
“I’m super appreciate for the work that’s been done by (the subcommittee),” said Vice Mayor Lucas Frerichs.
Carson, meanwhile, noted that when he first ran for office in 2018, “knocking on doors back when you could do that, time and time again those conversations at the door were folks saying, ‘Please do something to fix the roads, please do something to fix the bike paths.’”
The council had been making that effort, he said, including by encouraging economic development to bring more revenue into city coffers, something done with cannabis taxes, for example, and approval of new hotels.
Those things, said Carson, “are helping us to get the resources that we (need to) do this.”
The city has more to do on economic development, he added, “but we’re getting really close here.”
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy.