Where your $189 roadways tax is going

Tyler Clarke
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A map of city streets listed under the 2014 asphalt paving program are seen. 

Scattered throughout the city, crews from B&B Asphalt have already started this year’s $4 million, 12.17-kilometre asphalt paving program.


Funded through the roadways base tax of $189 on residential properties and a higher varying rate for commercial properties, the mayor’s happy with the results.

“Boy, we’re doing a large area again this year,” Mayor Greg Dionne summarized, noting that residents will again be able to “see their money at work.”

Manager of capital projects Wes Hicks said that, like last year’s inaugural $4 million paving program, the city’s worst streets have been targeted.

“We use a computerized model that is based on non-destructive testing equipment,” he explained, noting that the equipment is driven throughout the city, scanning streets for cracks, density and other variables as they go.

The data the equipment collects is complied into a pavement quality index (PQI), which identifies each block’s overall quality, from the worst near zero to 100.

Categorized and prioritized with the PQI system in the fall, civic crews drive down each street in the spring to re-evaluate everything to make judgment calls on which streets are in the direst need of new pavement.

One notable gap in this year’s paving program is the haggard intersection of Second Avenue West and 15th Street.

“That’s both an underground and above-ground work, so it’s going to take quite a bit of funding,” Mayor Greg Dionne explained. “It’s going to take quite a bit of funding, so we’re looking at both the provincial (government) and the feds to help us fund that project.”

Dionne hopes to see this intersection done as part of the city’s 2015 paving program.

Underground infrastructure is a major concern when considering which streets to pave, Hicks said, noting that it’d be pretty redundant to re-pave a street only to tear it up that same year for a water main break.

“Our list of the worst water mains in the city -- the blocks with the most water main breaks -- we would probably never pave any of those streets without replacing the water main.”

The public works department has a list of the city’s 25 worst streets for water main breaks.

They only have enough utilities funding to tackle the two worst streets on their list this year.

“It comes down to funding on the utilities side,” Hicks said. “We would do more if we had more funding and more manpower -- we would definitely do more. We’d like to, but you do with what you have.”

Civic crews are up against cast iron pipes as old as 114 years, he explained.

The city has 69.4 kilometres’ worth of cast iron pipes underground, which were installed between 1900 and 1955.

Boy, we’re doing a large area again this year. Greg Dionne

Concrete form pipes were used from 1956 to 1985, which the city has 102.7 kilometres worth of.

PVC pipes have been used since 1986, with 29.9 kilometers’ worth of them under city streets.

The city still has 2.3 kilometres worth of ductile iron pipes that were popular for a brief period of time in the ’70s -- brief, because they were easily impacted, Hicks explained.

Thankfully, the city no longer appears to have any pre-1900 oak pipes.

“Think of how they make a barrel -- like that,” Hicks explained. “It would be oak board lengthwise and beveled so it would be in a circle and wrapped with an iron belt.

“We haven’t seen another one for decades. As far as we know there aren’t any left.”

The underground infrastructure on 24th Street East from First Avenue to Third Avenue will be replaced this year -- a stretch that has seen 10 water main breaks over its history.

The pipes on 15th Street West between Sixth Avenue and Eighth Avenue will be replaced this year, having yielded seven water main breaks during their over-stretched lifespan.

Although funding for underground utilities has yet to reach a point where the city is able to catch up with their deterioration, Hicks commends city council for continuing last year’s $4 million annual paving program.

The program should be enough to keep the city’s overall PQI at a status quo level -- “A great improvement from what we were doing in past years,” he noted.

Previous years saw the city’s PQI drop due to an underfunding of asphalt paving. In 2005, the city’s overall PQI was 74. It plummeted to 62 by 2012, with the residential PQI dropping to 56.

“Our hope and our goal is to bring that PQI up,” Hicks said.

“I hope that the citizens noticed the difference last year and they’ll notice the difference this year.”

This year’s asphalt paving program started last week and is expected to finish by the Thanksgiving Day long weekend.

For a detailed map of this year's asphalt paving program, click HERE.

For a list of streets that are covered by this year's asphalt paving program, click HERE.

Geographic location: Second Avenue West, First Avenue, Third Avenue Sixth Avenue Eighth Avenue Prince Albert

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