City staff got an earful Monday on the state of city roads.
Following a presentation on the construction residents should anticipate during the upcoming season, members of the operations committee had several questions and comments for city staff.
Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan got the conversation started with a question about diverting funds set aside for local roads to large-patching projects on arterial, or major, roads.
“It’s our arterial roads that really need some of this major work,” Kirwan said. “If the contracts have not already been awarded, is it possible to look at how much money could be diverted to add more to the $5.2 million for large-area patching this summer, and delay those side streets?”
Tony Cecutti, the city’s general manager of growth and infrastructure, said while it is possible to divert funds, monies are set aside based largely on the budget process, which council oversees. This year, more than $70 million will be going towards roads.
“We look at asset management holistically, for the entire road network, so if we’re converting dollars from one roadway into another, it would certainly affect the asset management category of the roadways we weren’t treating,” Cecutti said.
Kirwan said most residents complain about arterial roads, not side streets. The city is planning on investing $5.2 million into arterial roads this year, and $4 million into local roads.
“We know our side streets need to be worked on,” he said. “That $4 million could increase large-area patching on our arterial roads to $9 million this summer and probably take care of most of the trouble spots we’re finding out about throughout the entire arterial road network.”
Cecutti pointed out the city is also investing in Maley Drive and Municipal Road 35, which are both arterial roads. Maley Drive should be ready for traffic by the end of this year.
Kirwan introduced a motion to nearly double the budget devoted to pothole-patching, but it was not carried.
Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland asked about developing GIS maps of construction projects, and making them publicly available. Cecutti said such tools do exist, although he conceded the city needs to do a better job of advertising and promoting the maps.
Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti asked about improving materials and techniques, in order to lengthen the lifespan of a pothole patch. Cecutti said the most important factor in remediation is weather. Frozen earth and freeze-thaw cycles are hard on roads, he said.
Once the earth begins to warm and spring arrives in earnest, crews can start doing more work and the situation should improve.
As Cecutti said, Sudbury is far enough south to experience several freeze-thaw cycles per season, although our winters can be six months long. That is a lot of wear-and-tear to city roads.
Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann asked about a one-person wonder machine that patches potholes.
Cecutti said Randy Halverson, the city’s director of linear infrastructure services, has begun putting together a business case; however, staff decided not to include it in the 2019 budget deliberations since it remains largely untested. For one thing, staff could not find enough data to show the machine is quicker than a crew. The other concern Cecutti noted was that there are no vendors or suppliers in this part of the province, which could become a concern when warranty and service issues arise.
Cecutti mentioned the Python 5000, a pothole-patching machine the City of Thunder Bay purchased in late 2017. According to a December 2018 report to Thunder Bay city council, the Python 5000 has been a welcome addition to the municipal fleet.
“General observation of pothole repairs performed by the Python 5000 has resulted in the performance of the patches lasting longer, reducing the frequency or eliminating the need for additional repairs to the same pothole location,” the report noted.
To learn more about the Python 5000, go to bit.ly/2TIZYkI.