The Town of Firestone Board of Trustees has directed town staff to look for both short- and long-term recommendations to address the aging street infrastructure and recommendations on how to fund the changes.
In the November 2012 election, Firestone voters failed to pass ballot question 2A, which was a tax initiative proposing a 1 percent sales tax increase for 15 years to address capital improvement and maintenance projects, fund street improvements and provide critical infrastructure. The temporary component of the tax would have allowed voters to re-address the issue when the time limit was met. The ballot was narrowly defeated with 54 percent of voters saying no and 46 percent voting yes.
Currently there are no sales tax revenues dedicated to streets operations and maintenance. As a result, many of the streets have begun to deteriorate sooner than they should.
The Public Works department relies almost entirely on the Highway Users Tax Fund (HUTF) to provide the operations and basic maintenance of streets in Firestone. The HUTF funds provide about $150,000 annually. But without a dedicated street fund, preventative maintenance and maintenance measures that would extend the useful life of streets have had to be sacrificed, resulting in some streets that are beyond maintenance measures and need major rehabilitation.
Town Engineer Dave Lindsay said Firestone today has about 66 miles of paved roadways. Of those roads, 66 percent are more than 10 years old and 18 percent have surpassed the typical design life of 20 years. Within the next 10 years, the percentage of roads older than 20 years jumps to 48 percent.
“Routine preventative maintenance, such as crack filling and chip sealing, can extend the useful life of a roadway beyond the 20-year design life,” said Lindsay, adding that eventually a major rehabilitation will be required.
Town staff has developed a list of the most critical street projects needing to be funded, as well an enhanced operations and maintenance program that would allow Public Works to get caught up on overdue improvements and fund a more proactive operations and maintenance program.
While the sales tax initiative was defeated, the issue of deteriorating streets still exists. Staff is now looking at alternative solutions which encompasses two parts. The first is a solution to repair, rehabilitate or replace aging streets and also implement an operations and maintenance program that will extend the useful life of the streets. The second part is determining a way to fund it.
The Board of Trustees and town staff will be looking at proposed scenarios more closely at 2013 work sessions. The work sessions take place the first Wednesdays of the month at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall and are open to the public.