Glendale has identified eight miles of major streets it will entirely reconstruct in the next five years. City staff has also moved money around to secure funding for every mile of roadway in the city to be properly maintained for the next 17 years.
Glendale has 101 miles of arterial roads, or high-capacity urban roads, that all have a 30-year life cycle. To ensure none of that roadway passes its lifespan of usefulness, the city must pay for three miles to be entirely reconstructed every year.
Last week, Glendale staff announced the next phase roadways to be reconstructed between 2021 and 2025: two non-consecutive miles of 67th Avenue, a two-mile stretch of 51st Avenue, and a mile each of Cactus Road and 59th, 75th and 83rd Avenues.
“I’m sure all of you have driven these mile segments of roadway and would agree that they need to be reconstructed,” Glendale Transportation Director Trevor Ebersole said to City Council during a Council workshop last week.
These projects aren’t yet paid for, but staff will come back to City Council next spring during the city’s budget season to ask for more funding for the reconstructions. None of these road reconstructions are planned to begin the design phase until late summer 2021 and construction is not expected to start until 2023 with the last project finishing in summer 2025.
The city’s current phase of road reconstructions is already fully funded and underway. Three miles of Camelback Road is nearing completion and a fourth mile of Camelback Road, four miles of Glendale Avenue and a mile each of Bell Road and Glendale Avenue are expected to be completed by spring 2023.
These road reconstructions, averaging three miles of roadway a year, cost about $10 million per year. Last week, Council OK’d staff to move money away from the next phase of reconstructions — the group scheduled for 2021-2025 — to fund a different roads project, Glendale’s Pavement Management Plan.
The Pavement Management Plan works separately but in congruity with the Arterial Reconstruction Program. The latter completely reconstructs roadways once their lifespan has been entirely used up; the former touches up roadways to extend their lifespan. Glendale’s Pavement Management Plan’s goal is to touch up every mile of Glendale’s 748 miles of roadway once every seven years.
Staff moved money around last week to ensure that seven-year cycle could remain funded into 2037. On top of existing funding of $2 million a year from transportation sales tax and $3.2 million a year from Highway User Revenue Funds, staff pulled money from three other sources to help fund pavement management for the next 17 years. First, $52.6 million in transportation sales tax reserve funds the city had originally saved up for extension of light rail into the city before that plan was scrapped in 2017. Most of that funding, $37.2 million, is contingency and might not be used. The city is taking $15.2 million in funding from the Arterial Reconstruction Program to use for pavement management. Lastly, once some of the city’s transportation debt payments end in 2033, the city plans to use $33.5 million of that saving for pavement management.
Cholla District Councilwoman Lauren Tolmachoff said funding road repavement was key because, as staff’s presentation showed, every year bad roads go unfixed, the cost to fix them goes up.
“I believe this is a pay me now or pay me a lot more later kind of a proposition, also. We’ve learned that inattention to the streets ends up increasing the cost,” she said.
Next staff moved more money around to help replace the money it had borrowed from the Arterial Reconstruction Program. Staff said it found money in the budget because two building improvement projects, costing $7 million in total, had money allocated for them twice. The bookkeeping error meant staff has $7 million to allocate toward another project it didn’t realize was there before. In addition to that $7 million, the Arterial Reconstruction Project will also receive $3 million in budget carryover that was earmarked for transportation but not yet allocated toward a specific project.
That only covers $10 million of the $15.2 million taken from arterial reconstruction, but staff said it intends to ask for Council to make up the difference in the budget for the 2022 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2021. None of the non-funded projects are planned to begin design phase until the 2022 fiscal year.
Barrel District Councilman Bart Turner asked staff what other transportation projects that $3 million in carryover could be used for. Staff never answered Mr. Turner’s question, but others on Council interjected that streets are there top transportation priority and something they’ve been promising the public for years.
“I think today we’re just kind of giving the general guideline to say, ‘Yes, we want to make sure that streets are a priority,’” said Vice Mayor Ray Malnar of the Sahuaro District.
Ms. Tolmachoff said she thinks street conditions are probably the top complaint she and others on Council receive from constituents.
Making whole the $15.2 million in funded taken from the Arterial Reconstruction Project won’t be enough to fund the eight miles planned to be reconstructed in 2021-25. Staff notified Council that it plans to ask for an additional $30 million to complete that phase of reconstruction. Then it wants to lock into the budget $10 million a year for arterial reconstruction through 2030.