$4M for roads and public hearing for sidewalks
Updated 6:23 pm, Wednesday, February 23, 2011
The Town Council Wednesday night voted to appropriate $4 million in bonds for the Department of Public Works road paving initiative. The original request of $5 million dollars was reduced to $4 million with the expectation to review the bonding or expensing the rest.
"The $4 million was bonded because that would allow tiger to continue with road paving and maintenance as expected," council member Tucker Murphy said. "Now we can really go back and decide what aspects should be expensed and what may need to be bonded in the future."
Since 2002, Public Works has been given roughly $5 million dollars for two years of paving projects and road maintenance. The funds have historically been borrowed in the form of bonds, thereby adding to the town debt, which is currently at $131 million.
The decision to appropriate also came with a caveat regarding the potential of new sidewalks on Main Street. In fact, many people attended at the Town Council meeting Wednesday with the assumption that a discussion on the Main Street paving and sidewalks issue would be in the works.
More InformationFact box
"I can understand why they thought sidewalks would be discussed," Murphy said. "Considering the fact that Main Street desperately needs to be paved, the sidewalk conversation is always brought up alongside the paving conversation. That is why we scheduled a public hearing for March 3, out of respect for all those who came out for the sidewalks."
An amendment was added to the vote prohibiting any money being spent on new sidewalks on main street until after town has a public hearing on the issue on March 3. The hearing is expected to be chaired by the Town Council's Public Works subcommittee.
In his presentation to the council on Jan. 20, Assistant Director of Public Works Tiger Mann went through the status of New Canaan's roads. The way roads are gauged is through something called the Pavement Condition Index (PCI). The PCI is on a scale from 0-100. Roads are considered to be in excellent condition if they are in the range between 93 and 100. Between a PCI of 86 and 92 they are considered to be in very good condition and between 73 and 85 they are considered to be in good condition. Below a PCI of 73 is fair and poor conditions. This year, according to statistics from Public Works, New Canaan's overall PCI is 79.77, well into the good condition range.
"Now I really wanted to hit that 80 mark," Mann said. "But I believe we will hit that number next year if we continue as planned."
Mann explained that part of the reason their PCI has been this good is because of the change in funding to $2.5 million a year as opposed to $600,000 a year. He stressed that had Public Works continued with their funding of $600,000 a year that the current PCI would be approximately 58.4, nearly a 20 point differential from 79.77.