By HEATHER CATHLEEN COX
“There is an incredible product on the market that would probably take all of the politics out,” said City Manager Manuel Lara of San Benito’s street woes.
In 2012, the City of San Benito established, through its officials, a list of streets deemed in highest disrepair. The process by which streets were selected was at least somewhat controversial among San Benitians.
The order in which streets were addressed “is more of their preference,” Lara said regarding the official street repair list that was created when city and elected officials canvassed the City and selected streets.
For years, Lara has spoken of a software program he would like the Commissioners to utilize. “I would like for (the commissioners) to allow us to do a professional study. A professional study of the streets will give us priorities of which are the worst streets. It gives you different conditions … prioritizes streets. Many cities are doing that.”
In years past, such technology did not exist, and core samples of the streets were the only way to find the actual condition of each road. “Core samples have been standard,” said Lara. “But this program is better. For Portland, TX it is working great.”
Lara described the process by which the City presently checks the status of each road. “We do a core of the road, and we send it to the lab or studies. Depending on the condition of the caliche [whether or not it is compactable], there’s no sense in repairing or using old caliche … if the base is no good, because the water will seep through and ruin it. The base on the streets in the most important thing. The base is the key,” he said.
In 2012, the City obtained Certificates of Obligation totaling $2.95 million, to be expressly utilized for repairs to streets identified as in disrepair. Over the past few weeks, however, many new streets have been added to the aforementioned list. But Lara said that funding may prove an issue in how quickly the new roads can be repaired.
Of the $2.95 million in C.O. Bonds, $893,000 is presently still available. In additional monies, from the City’s Solid Waste Funds, $470,504 is available to be utilized for street repairs. With a budget totaling nearly $1.4 million, officials are deciding how to reprioritize and address streets and whether or not to repair the streets with in-house or outsourced workers.
Lara spoke to the fact that he feels certain pricy materials make for a beautiful finished product but he posed the question as to whether such materials were the best choice when more roads could be fixed if less costly products were utilized. “If you drive around San Benito, we have a high need of street projects. The City of San Benito, we need to figure out how to stretch our money as far as we can.”
“The commission has requested for us to do an evaluation,” said Lara, “to check streets and re-prioritize. We are taking the directive given to us, to see if the order three years ago is still okay.”
“I want the county to come in and do a test on one road,” said Lara. “And we can see if we can agree to use an affordable material for drivable roads.”
The software will reportedly analyze streets quickly, to the core, and assess the precise level of disrepair of each road. “It will give a list of streets and color code them in red, green and yellow,” said Lara. “It gives you a priority list, done professionally with data.”
Contritely, Place 3 Commissioner J.D. Penny has said, “I would say the best assessment to which streets (are in disrepair) is us. We can look at them (and see for) ourselves.”
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