Roads

The Supervisors Ad Hoc Committee Report on Roads concluded that 53% of the County's roads have failed so badly due to age and lack of maintenance they need to be reconstructed at an estimated cost of $926 million over the next 10 years ($92.6 million per year). In addition, the cost of "pavement preservation" on the other 46% of roads to prevent them from failing is estimated to cost $25 million per year for a total estimated cost of $118 million for all the County's roads. Unfortunately, the money budgeted from the General fund for roads is this year is $15.5 million or 13% of the amount needed.
 
This cost for road maintenance would be much less if the County had not reduced the percentage of property tax revenues from 9% in 2002 to 3% in 2012. The cost of proper maintenance, according to the report, is $27,300 per mile versus $71,300 for reconstruction per year of a "fair" road and $127,000 per mile per year for a "failed" road. So essentially for these roads abandoning maintenance increased the cost by 250 to 450%.
 
This means the County will only be able to perform 13% of the roadwork needed unless the County can find other sources of funds by raising taxes, lowering pensions and salaries, laying off staff, or reducing other items in the budget.
 
Abandoning pavement preservation and road maintenance brings several questions to mind:
 

1. What will happen to assessed property values and tax revenues when most of our roads fall apart and become difficult to travel? Lower property values will mean lower tax revenues.


2. How will traffic be affected if most traffic moves on only the 14% of roads that are maintained?


3. How will emergency vehicles (fire and ambulance) response times be affected?


4. How much traffic will a dirt road accept?


5. What will the safe rate of speed be on a dirt road, 5-10 miles per hour? And how will that affect commute times and quality of life in general?


6. Who will maintain and fix the potholes on the dirt roads and how much more will they cost to maintain than paved roads?


7. Will the wine and agriculture industry be affected because large trucks may not be able to get to the wineries, farms and ranches?


8. Will tourism be affected because people will not be able to easily get around to places like lodging and tasting rooms?

9. Will we increase our carbon footprint because we will need to start purchasing SUV’s to navigate the roads?

 

To learn more about our roads, visit Save Our Sonoma Roads at www.sosroads.org