|FROM THE OFFICE OF THE FIRST SELECTMAN, JULIA PEMBERTON|
INFORMATION ON $2.95MIL ROAD RECONSTRUCTION PLAN
AUGUST 21, 2019Town of Redding to vote on $2.95 million to fund 3 year Road Plan
On Monday August 26, 2019, Redding residents will vote whether or not to approve a request by the Board of Selectmen to authorize an expenditure of up to $2.95 million to be funded by short term borrowing pending long term financing, to fund the fourth in a series of road reconstruction plans dating back to 2009.
Why does Redding need to do road reconstruction?
In 2009, the town approved the first in a series of four multi-year road reconstruction projects. Redding’s roads had deteriorated significantly over many years and many had not been built to modern standards to begin with, lacking a good base and adequate drainage. It is also important to note that road reconstruction is different from road maintenance, which is funded in the annual operating budget and through state town aid road funds.Reconstruction is bringing a road back to like-new condition and can include new road base, drainage (piping, catch basins), milling, paving, chip seal, and various other sealing materials to help extend the life of a newly paved road.Reconstruction is expensive and the life of a new road is expected to exceed 20 years. Therefore, the cost of road reconstruction is classified as a capital item and has not been included in the annual operating budget. Road reconstruction has been funded, as recommended by the Board of Finance, through short term borrowing (bond anticipation notes), pending a conversion to long term financing (bonding).Maintenance is the caretaking of a road to keep it in good condition. Road maintenance includes annual crack sealing, repairs to existing drainage, minor drainage adjustments like adding a new catch basin, curb repair, patching potholes, sign replacement, road striping and minor road repair.Road maintenance is in the annual operating budget, currently $150,000 for this fiscal year. Over the last several years that amount has been supplemented by $268k in state municipal aid from the Town Aid Road Program. We spend close to $400,000 annually on road maintenance.• The state releases TAR funds for roads in two payments; one in July and one in January. To date, the state has not disbursed these funds to Connecticut municipalities. This funding was included in the Governor’s budget and approved by the legislature, so the delay is a real problem for all Connecticut towns and cities who rely on this funding to supplement their operating budgets.
Why fund it through borrowing?
It has been the Board of Finance policy dating back to the beginning of this program, to fund road reconstruction through borrowing, taking advantage of low interest rates to fund road reconstruction expense that would otherwise be carried in the operating budget. Adding millions of dollars in additional expense to the operating budget would put additional pressure on taxpayers to choose between roads, schools, and other essential services, or to choose to take on additional tax burden.
History of Redding’s road reconstruction program:
2009 – Voters at a special town meeting on March 10, 2009 approved an expenditure of $1,004,075 to reconstruct 4.76 miles of roads to be funded by short term borrowing pending long term financing as recommended by the Board of Finance. The roads completed in this first phase were Dayton, Orchard, Ledgewood and Tudor Roads.
2011 – On September 27, 2011, voters approved an expenditure not to exceed $3,500,000 for a three year road reconstruction project. The project was funded by short term borrowing pending long term financing as recommended by the Board of Finance. Interest rates on short-term borrowing were at historic lows.However, during this period of time brent crude oil prices jumped to historically high levels, averaging $111. 26 per barrel in 2011 and $111.67 per barrel in 2012. This drove up the price of the materials used for road reconstruction and funding ran short for Phase II with the last road on the plan, Cross Highway, carried into 2014.
2014 – On July 22, 2014, voters approved funding not to exceed $6,753,429 in short term borrowing pending long term financing, for a 4 year road reconstruction plan to complete 20 miles of roadway. During this period of time, the price of crude oil crashed from over $100 per barrel down to $50 and below. This drop in cost of materials allowed the town to fund additional road reconstruction, about $775,000, without additional borrowing. These roads included Giles Hill Road, Charlie Hill, Church Hill Road, Simpaug Road, Station Road, and Iris Lane, stretching a 4-year program into a 5-1/2 year program.
A detailed discussion of the Phase IV road plan, along with roads recommended for inclusion began last October 15th at the Board of Selectmen meeting. Director of Public Works Jeff Hansonpresented his recommendations and there was discussion. BOS meetings are videotaped and available to view online. Discussion continued throughout the budget season at both the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance.At the time the budget was being considered last Fall and the referendum scheduled for May 2019, funding was available to carry the program into Spring 2020. The decision was made to defer putting a funding package to the voters until new funding was necessary.Now, the funding from 2014 Phase III is spent and all the roads that were on the plan are complete.There are additional roads, however, that have fallen into serious condition since that time, for a variety of reasons, and should be repaved this fall.It is for this reason, authorization for an expenditure of up to $2,950,000 to reconstruct 13 miles of roads over a 3-year period is being requested at a referendum on Monday, August 26th, 2019 at the Redding Elementary School gymnasium from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
How does the Town of Redding prioritize roads for reconstruction?
Roads are slated for work according to their condition. In 2013, all roads in town were inventoried and rated on a scale from 1-10. A rating of 1 is bad. A rating of 10 would indicate a new road. Anything below 5 is considered needy. Anything 5 and above is at the better end of the spectrum. Roads were rated on pavement condition only and not drainage.In 2013, of the town’s 48 through roads, approximately 20, or 48%, were rated below 5. Of the 33 main roads, 11 or 33%, were rated “in need”. Of the 174 “no outlet” roads, like cul de sacs, 68 or approximately 40% were rated below 5.The timing of the pavement of individual roads in the plan for the next three years may shift based on current road conditions. Roads are assessed year round.
Click here to view a list of the roads currently scheduled for reconstruction as part of the Phase IV plan.