Paradise Valley roadway quality remains pristine while exceeding national standards

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Many of the roadways Paradise Valley residents and motorists drive on are in pristine condition, officials say, requiring minimal work in the upcoming townwide maintenance plan to begin this year.

Paradise Valley Town Council received a report on the local thoroughfares during a Jan. 9 study session from Zac Thomason, director of client services for Infrastructure Management Services.

Roadways with poor asphalt become a safety concern, and the cost to repair is greater if a road deteriorates completely and then is reconstructed.

In June 2019, every inch of roadway was tested to determine pavement quality and underlying foundation quality. Based on those results, the town’s Public Works Department has developed a townwide maintenance plan to improve all Paradise Valley roads starting in 2020, and finishing in 2019.

The town contracts with IMS to conduct detailed assessments of the condition of public streets. These assessments, known as the pavement condition index, are numerical ratings based on the type and severity of damage observed on the pavement surface.

Based on the June 2019 review, Paradise Valley’s pavement condition index was reported to be 77 out of 100, which is considered very good, Mr. Thomason said.

A score of 100 would be for a road paved yesterday, and a zero is a “bad road turning back to gravel,” he said.

Paradise Valley has approximately 148 miles of town-owned roadways, being the single largest visible town asset, valued at $870,000 per mile --- or $129 million total, plus improvements and right of way.

In addition, the back log of big-ticket work to be done on local roads is minimal, at .2%. Mr. Thomason said anything under 10% is the target area for a municipality.

“That is phenomenal,” Mr. Thomason told the town’s elected leaders of its tiny back-log.

The purpose of pavement management for a municipality is far more cost effective to maintain an asset over its life, than let it deteriorate and rebuild it at a later time, Mr. Thomason said.

“So, it behooves us to spend $1 now maintaining our assets in good condition, then defer and delay and spend $8 later,” Mr. Thomason said.

“When we have a car we change the oil, we flush the coolant, we rotate the tires --- not because we enjoy doing so, but because we want to maximize the life of that vehicle at the absolute lowest cost. So, we make a conscious decision to either change the oil every 3,000 miles or swap the engine every 30,000 miles. Both are OK answers, one just has a huge financial impact at the end of the day.”

This data comes from a “laser surface road tester” --- a van equipped with high-speed lasers, GPS technology and HD cameras.

The van drove every roadway within Paradise Valley, collecting a full suite of pavement distresses.

“It captured all of this information, because we then used it to calculate a PCI score for every individual block and segment in the town. Using that information is how we can calculate a network average,” Mr. Thomason said.

Following the road test, Paradise Valley streets were broken down into categories:

  • Poor to marginal: less than 5% of roads;
  • Fair: less than 10% of roads;
  • Good: 30% of roads;
  • Very good: 28% of roads; and
  • Excellent: 29% of roads.

“Poor to marginal” roads are at a high-priority for thicker overlay, and possibly surface removal and replacement to avoid reconstruction.

The roads with a “fair” rating are at an optimum timing for thin, moderate overlay. The “very good” roadways would benefit from crack seal with surface treatment, extending the pavement life at a low cost.

The “excellent” roads are in like-new condition, and should provide three- to-five years prior to the first rehabilitation with routine maintenance.

“You folks clocked in at a 77, the average that we see nationally right now is 60-65,” Mr. Thomason said of the country’s roadway conditions.

“If I zoomed into Arizona, the average that we see is generally between about 60 to upwards of 73. There’s a few folks that are in that low-70 range as well.”

Paradise Valley Public Works Superintendent Jerry Cooper, at the end of the presentation, pointed out a newly available map on the town’s website so residents can see when their roadway is due for pavement work.

The Town Council members had few comments, but did express impression by the new online map.

Go to ParadiseValleyaz.gov, click on the “Government” drop down menu to find the Public Works webpage. On the left-hand column of the Public Works page, click on “Planned Road Maintenance Application” to view your neighborhood.

The scheduled maintenance is subject to change, but until otherwise noted the plans in the online map are moving forward.

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