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How the Street Maintenance Program Works

Overview | Life of a Street | Evaluating Streets | Selective Improvement | Video Taping | No Parking Signs


Overview

The Street Maintenance Program (SMP) focuses on extending the lifespan of roadways and minimizing the cost of maintaining a viable road surface. Proper pavement management through the SMP along with assessments of utilities, sidewalks and curbs helps to prioritize road maintenance and reconstruction projects.

Street pavement deterioration is caused by many factors, including the freeze/thaw cycle, traffic loading, the effects of moisture, and the quality of the soils beneath the street. As pavement deteriorates, certain types of distresses occur (potholes, settling, rutting, cracking). These distresses indicate what type of maintenance or rehabilitation is needed to prolong the lifespan of a street in a cost-effective manner.

The Life of a Street

Did you ever think about the "life" of a street? Consider a street's youth, for example. When a pavement is new, it is really very resilient, taking the bump and grind of garbage and delivery trucks, the squealing tires of the neighbor's teenagers, and the seasonal abuse of rain, snow, heat and cold, without showing much sign of wear. With the passage of time, the effects of traffic and weather begin to show. Cracks begin to appear and the pavement starts to ravel around the edges. Here and there, parts of the street may even sag a bit. In spite of all that, the street is still in pretty good condition. As still more time goes by, the street continues to lose its ability to "bounce back" from the effects of traffic and weather, and after years of adequate service, it reaches a point where it begins to deteriorate more rapidly. The existing cracks become wider and potholes begin to appear. Water from the rain and snow will seep through these cracks and holes, weakening the gravel base and soil beneath the asphalt. Soon, the weak and aging pavement will no longer be able to stand up to the traffic and weather and the street will fail.

Fortunately, there is an alternative. The City's annual Street Maintenance Program is designed to prolong the life of a street by applying PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE, such as an asphalt overlay, before the pavement reaches the final stage of its life - the period of rapid deterioration. An asphalt overlay is part facelift and part reincarnation. After the overlay, the street will look very much like it did when it was new, and will again be able to withstand the effects of traffic and weather. And, the very best part of all this is that PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE saves the taxpayers a bundle of money.

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Evaluating Streets

The City's Street Maintenance Program evaluates streets through visual inspection and nondestructive testing to determine type and extent of pavement distresses. These distresses are analyzed by a software program that gives each street a Pavement Condition Index (PCI) rating in the excellent, good, fair, poor, or very poor range.

  • Excellent to Good PCI: Some preventative maintenance, such as crack seal, slurry seal and hot applied chip overlay (HACO), is required.
  • Fair PCI: Some rehabilitation, such as overlay, hot-in-place recycling, etc. is required.
  • Poor to Very Poor PCI: Needs major rehabilitation.

SMP utilizes this software program to perform a cost benefit analysis to ensure the treatments are performed at the right time in the pavement lifecycle. This allows the City to maximize available funding and ensure best results for the dollar. Effective and timely placement of the proper maintenance treatment can prevent much larger repair expenses in the future.

Generally, streets with a PCI in the poor to very poor range have pavements that have failed entirely. Since these streets are considered to be among the worst in the City, preventative maintenance procedures (crack sealing and slurry seal) are very expensive and ineffective at improving their quality. In order to address existing conditions, the SMP spends approximately 65% of its budget to maintain good streets. The other 35% is spent to reconstruct streets in poor condition.

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Selective Improvement

There are more than 540 centerline miles of streets in the City of Fort Collins. Every the fall, inspectors mark streets for the coming SMP improvements. They evaluate each needed repair and prepare a cost estimate for the preliminary SMP list. Not every street that is marked in the fall will be repaired the following year. The final list will be completed in the spring. The Street Maintenance Program improves concrete curb, gutter and sidewalk; constructs handicap access ramps; repairs deteriorating asphalt; and reconstructs, overlays or slurry seals existing streets. In the past, the program encompassed approximately 15 to 20 miles of streets in Fort Collins annually. With the passage of the Keep Fort Collins Great tax, the SMP anticipates performing street maintenance treatments on approximately 40 to 50 miles of streets per year as the result of this increased funding.

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Video Taping Streets

One part of the Street Maintenance Program turns a lot of heads even before construction begins - video taping the streets. Why would anyone want a video tape of a street pavement? Video taping is used for several reasons. First, each street typically requires a variety of repairs:

  • concrete repair
  • crack sealing
  • asphalt patching
  • reconstruction of large areas
  • paving fabric
  • sealcoat
  • asphalt overlay

These repairs are mapped out on the street with bright pink paint before construction begins. When these paint marks are captured on video tape, they are a record of specific work locations and include some utility locations like manholes and water valves. If problems are encountered during or after the work, the video can be used to help determine the nature of a problem and appropriate steps can be taken to correct it. Video taping is also helpful as a means to establish a record of the condition of the adjoining streets, lawns, landscaping and driveways. If damage occurs, the video tape provides a guide for restoration of these areas to their original condition prior to construction. Video taping streets allows the SMP to quickly and easily collect a great deal of valuable information.

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No Parking Signs

No Parking signs are placed at least 24 hours in advance of any parking restrictions, but in some cases they may be posted as many as two or three days in advance. It is important to read the entire sign carefully to identify the dates when the no parking restriction actually applies, such as "Monday, June 8." The no parking signs will also state the nature of the work such as "Concrete Repair." When posted, parking restrictions are normally in effect from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Generally speaking, work will not be allowed, and parking will not be restricted outside these hours.

PLEASE READ AND OBEY THE PARKING RESTRICTIONS POSTED ON YOUR STREET.

Your cooperation in observing "No Parking" signs is a key factor in the success of street repair projects.

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