West Eighth Street in 2008, now repaired
In 2006, new City Council President Ray Blanco launched committees to monitor important aspects of government. One was The Roads Construction Oversight Committee, to monitor a 15-year, $75 million plan to repair or reconstruct all city roads. The committee’s goal was to keep the plan on track to prevent a backlog of repairs.
Alas, Ray Blanco died of a heart attack months later. By 2008, the plan had only advanced to Year Two and the administration of Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs sought to pay $1 million to the engineering firm of Remington & Vernick to reassess the schedule because road conditions had changed since the original assessment in 2004.
By 2010, hard times caused deferment of capital expenses and road repair began to be spoken of in "phases" rather than years.
On Thursday, the Planning Board discussed returning to a regular schedule. Planning Director Bill Nierstedt said Mayor Adrian O. Mapp wants "an actual road plan as we had years ago," not only to fix roads but to maintain them. Because so many changes have occurred in the interim, a new schedule must be developed.
(Obstacles over the years have included a lack of spending on capital improvements in addition to council representatives of the city's four wards competing over priorities for grant-funded repairs.)
Nierstedt mentioned a "bridge" capital improvement plan to be presented with only one or two items while the long-range plan is reconfigured. The Planning Board develops a six-year CIP which the governing body approves as part of the annual budget. During the previous mayor's two terms, the process had its glitches including high turnover in directorship of the Department of Administration & Finance.