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Carmel Valley Roads Report

Speech by Lew C. Bauman Phd., PE
Public Works Director, Monterey County, Jan. 29, 2002

Carmel Valley Roads Report
Speech by Lew C. Bauman PhD., PE
Public Works Director, Monterey County, California
Rotary Speech at Rancho Canada in Carmel Valley
January 29, 2002

“We figure that about 35-40 miles of that area do not meet our current development standards and would need to be re-engineered. If we were to do that within the incorporated area, that would cost about $100 to $150 million to reconstruct these roads to County status.” – Lew C. Bauman

I appreciate the invitation. I am a member of the Monterey chapter and this is a nice cozy size, so it is a pleasure to be here today. I won’t go into detail about our position on incorporation or non-incorporation, because we don’t have a position. As County staff, we simply take a look at the issues, the facts, the data and represent that to the public and, of course, incorporation is a public decision.

What I would like to do today is talk about infrastructure in the global sense; talk about some of the needs at the national level and state level; talk about road needs at the county level; and then talk about some of our findings that we submitted to the consultant during their incorporation study. Of course, when we speak of infrastructure, we are not only talking about roads, we are talking about water and sewer systems, libraries and parks, schools, public buildings, reservoirs, flood control systems, and a variety of public works infrastructure that is necessary to insure that public health and safety and a vibrant economy.

According to “Rebuild America”, spending in infrastructure in California has systematically decreased and dramatically decreased over the past few decades. In the 1960’s, they estimated the infrastructure spending represented 20 of the State’s budget. Today, the estimate is closer to 3% of the State’s budget and you have that in a State, which has seen 50% growth in that time.

At the same time, most of our public works infrastructure was constructed in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s and much of that infrastructure had a life of anywhere from 20 to 50 years. What we have just seen, both within the State, locally and nationally, is this infrastructure has decayed and requires that we rebuild our basic infrastructural system.

In California in terms of transportation capacity, even though our State has grown by 50%, we have seen an increase of transportation capacity of about 7%. That means that we are spending 70% of our time in our vehicles. We know here in Carmel Valley, until these minor improvements were done, we may have spent a larger percentage of that time.

We can see signs of neglected infrastructure all over the County and Monterey Peninsula – water main breaks; we know that we have nitrate problems in the Valley; we have significant shortages in overall water capacity; we have beach closures; and sewer leakages in Pacific Grove. I have already talked about worsening traffic. We have schools that are literally falling apart. Take the example of the roof falling down at Monterey High School. We have clearly unrepaired potholes in roads, which are rapidly turning to gravel, in addition to crowded airports (with the exception of Monterey Airport) and other failing infrastructure.

Overall, California lacks a coordinated strategic plan to deal with this issue. Due to the multitude of special districts, cities, and counties, each of these entities develops their own plans, if any, to deal with these issues and resulting in a lack of a coordinated strategy plan that can be implemented systematically over the next decades.

At the national level, there is on the order of $40 billion of drinking water needs, $23 billion to upgrade waste water systems, over $70 billion for a national highway system, $10 billion for bridges, $14 billion for mass transit, $12 billion for airports, and over $254 billion needed for the 88,000 schools. Absolutely staggering numbers.

When you come to California, back in 1999 Senator Burton initiated what was called SR8 or the Senate Resolution 8 study. That study evaluated transportation needs in California over a ten-year period. What the subcommittee did was they literally went to cities and counties, and they went with questionnaires and they collated the information based on each of those jurisdictions’ anticipated capital needs.

What they found in the State of California is that we need about $20 billion for high priority State highway improvements, $13 billion for local arterials, another $20 billion for rail and bus, another $1.3 billion for bicycle and pedestrian improvements, and what I find the most staggering number, a $10.5 billion backlog in deferred maintenance for local streets. That number is growing at $400 million a year. In order words, the State collectively is not repaving the road system and we basically have a ballooning infrastructure deficit, if you will, of $400 million a year. Another $2.7 billion in bridges, another $25.9 for unfunded State highways and bridges, and an estimated $4 billion for infrastructure related to ground access to airports and seaports.

With that, it brings us to Monterey County and what I am going to do now is focus my discussion more on roads, or course, under my jurisdiction. What we did as a department several years ago is initiated a countywide pavement management analysis. What that really means is that we had staff literally walk the road system, estimate the pavement index condition of the roadway system, compile that information, coordinate it eventually into a geographical information system, and perform a cost estimate of what it would take to rehabilitate Monterey County’s road system. You may have heard this number before, but over our 1200-mile road system about 1100 miles are paved. We estimate Monterey County has $220 million backlog in deferred road maintenance.

So as you drive out today and you come to the corner sections of Carmel Valley Road; this is the condition that you will see throughout the County road system. It is in very poor condition. In terms of the breakdown of the road system, only 43 miles or 3% of the road system is in excellent condition and about 273 miles is in good condition which is about 25%. The bulk of it, 439 miles or 40%, is in fair condition and then 30% is either poor or literally failed.

Many of our roads have actually failed. What that means is that nearly 70% of our road network is either fair to failed. What that means is that unless we take very dramatic action very soon, these roads will quickly move into the poor and failed category. To repair a failed road system, it is going to roughly cost you $1 million a mile. If you have to upgrade a poor or fair system, that will cost you between $100,000 and $500,000 per mile. A good system, with routine maintenance will be somewhere in the order of $27,000 per mile, chip or slurry seal, so you have a dramatically lower cost to implement a preventative maintenance program. The longer we wait, the more it is going to cost. It is really like having a credit card that is far overdrawn and out of control. Of course, one of my primary issues is to educate the public, educate the Board, and to seek as much money as we can for preventative maintenance projects.

In addition to preventative maintenance, we have other capital needs including in the County an estimated $45.6 million countywide to rehabilitate or replace our existing 173 bridge structures. In North County we estimate it is going to require approximately $35 million for necessary capacity and safety improvements in the Prunedale and adjacent North County.

Finally, TAMC, the Transportation Agency of Monterey County, has just completed a regional transportation plan. Over the 20-year period, they have identified a rough $4 billion in transportation needs and for regional transportation needs including cities and counties -- countywide to just under $2 billion in unfunded costs for the next 20 years. This is a dramatic number and I think we can clearly see it is far beyond our means. We are going to have to make some very difficult decisions and perhaps triage, if you will.

This brings me now to the area of proposed Carmel Valley incorporation including the area just East of Highway #1 up to east of the Village. What our staff did at the request of LAFCO was to provide the incorporation’s committee consultant with what we believed to be an estimate for what the cost would be. I want to be clear that these are estimates and are not highly accurate numbers.

In the proposed study area, there are about 68 miles of road or 144-lane miles. That includes six street lights, eight flashing beacons, a number of tunnel lights at Robinson, six traffic signals at the mouth of the Valley, and 20 bridges of varying size, as well as numerous culverts and drainage facilities. Our department estimates that on an annual basis it cost us about $4,300 per mile for routine maintenance. What I mean by routine maintenance is sweeping, striping, mowing, maintaining bridges, signs, repainting, maintaining signals, patching, storm drainage – everything but preventative maintenance – everything but repaving the road system.

It is basically what is required to keep our doors open as a public works department. Quite frankly, over the past ten years that is what the County had done is kept the doors open, with the exception of the last few years of preventative maintenance activities. For the study area, that comes to about $293,000 to maintain the road system.

Currently, the County finances these costs or operational costs from your gas tax. Every time you buy a gallon of gas and you go to the pump and you notice the little sticker there that says there is 18 cents State tax, 18.4 cents Federal tax. O that 18-cent State tax, roughly 12 cents goes to the State, 3 cents goes to the cities, and 3 cents goes to the counties. That brings about $6 to $7 million into our public works department budget. That is a slightly larger budget than the Monterey Peninsula Water management District. That’s not a whole lot of money.

Honestly, these are inadequate resources. Your Board of Supervisors, in my opinion, took dramatic actions several years ago when we brought this issue to their attention. They immediately, with very limited resources, on a very controversial issue, allocated tobacco settlement funds in the amount of approximately $2 million for preventive maintenance programs. With those monies, we have been able to pave over 300 miles of the county road system. It is actually over 300, we are very near repaving a third of the county road system. Keep in mind that this is the cheap part that I talk about, the $27,000 a mile portion, but that is still a tremendous accomplishment and much of that was in the Carmel Valley area.

In addition, we have some scheduled improvements in the proposed incorporation area, that includes the proposed replacement of the Boranda Road bridge and the Schulte Road bridge, aw well as the ongoing intersection improvements in what we call Segment #6 and #7 between this location and Robinson Canyon and underground utility district financed by PG & E funds, again, in that general area.

Above and beyond that, there are significant design limitations, if you will. The original road system was never designed for the uses it has seen today within the incorporated area. We figure that about 35-40 miles of that area do not meet our current development standards and would need to be re-engineered. If we were to do that within the incorporated area, that would cost about $100 to $150 million to reconstruct these roads to County status.

In addition, including pavement rehabilitation and replacement costs we figure about $40 to $60 million is required within the incorporation area to reconstruct the existing pavement system and another $3 million in funds to replace the failed road systems per years. In addition, there are a number of intersections that are not currently signalized including Carmel Valley at All Saints near Schulte, Carmel Valley Road at Dorris, Carmel Valley Road at Laureless Grade, Rio at Carmel Rancho, Rio at Via Nona Marie, and the private intersection of Clock Tower and Carmel Rancho. Potentially, these could be signalized in the future or there could grade separations at significant costs. Signalized those intersections would be anywhere from $150,000 to $400,000 per location depending on the road geometry modifications

What we can see is that we have a significant cost associated with upgrading, replacing, and maintaining the infrastructure within the proposed area.

With that, I am going to change my focus – I have a few more minutes left here – to address the Carmel Valley Road improvements. Many of you may have seen the issue of the triggers on Carmel Valley Road discussed last week. The Board of Supervisors, as a result of litigation and modifications to the County Master Plan, adopted a traffic count limit to establish an acceptable traffic Master Plan, adopted a traffic count limit to establish an acceptable traffic volume on Carmel Valley Road. As a result of that litigation, it was determined that the level of service on the road was the level of service “D”. What that means in traffic engineering terms is that you have difficulty passing and that you are frequently in platoons of vehicles and that was perceived to be an unacceptable traffic condition. Recently those counts or triggers were reached and, again, in what we call Segments “6” and “7”. According to the technique of measuring traffic, the level of service dropped from “D” to “E”, which is approaching theoretical capacity of the road. What that means is a tremendous impact for the jurisdiction in terms of ultimate build-out of lots of record and future proposed subdivisions.

It is important to keep in mind that these levels or services are determined for 15-minute periods and then they were transcribed to one-hour periods. So what we are seeing in my view is a very restrictive analysis of the capacity of the road.

A number of people at a recent Board hearing suggested, particularly some traffic engineers, that the methodology utilized to measure the level of service be revisited. I agree that that is appropriate; particularly in the light of the fact that the community also finds that they do anticipate neither the funding nor the desire to 4-lane Carmel Valley Road from Via Petra out to Robinson. I think most of you would agree that would be a significant undertaking. Even if we wanted to do it. Quite frankly in the light of our tremendous shortfall in financing capabilities we wouldn’t be able to do that in the near future.

So what I suggest and what we recommended to the Board, was a policy to incorporate a new analysis of the traffic of Carmel Valley Road as part of the General Plan update that will give an opportunity to look at all the infrastructure elements within Carmel Valley – water, sewer, storm drainage, in addition to traffic. Then when an estimate of the total build-out is determined, you can come back and do the necessary traffic engineering. You can look at the new metrics that are incorporated in the highway capacity manual and perhaps we can come up with new methodology and a new vision for Carmel Valley Roads and where we go from here.

With that, I will answer any questions.

Last Updated: Dec 06, 08

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