Twitter sweepstakes highlights growing road maintenance issues in Portland



Twitter sweepstakes highlights growing road maintenance issues in Portland

Today, the Portland Business Alliance kicked off a Twitter sweepstakes to find Portland’s most annoying pothole (#Potholelandia). While the contest itself is lighthearted and a bit irreverent, there is a real issue we are spotlighting: Portland is way behind on road maintenance and repair. Potholes are the most visible manifestation of this issue and they are a serious problem for drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, visitors, businesses and yes…even the mythical creatures that roam our streets. There are real stakes at play with this issue. Delayed road maintenance and repairs will result in much higher long-term costs to Portland’s residents and businesses. The facts speak for themselves:
  • Portland’s street network is its most valuable asset, with a $7.9 billion replacement value.
  • City audit reports in 2006, 2008 and 2013 all emphasized the need to prioritize preventative maintenance to protect street conditions.
  • The city’s goal is 80 percent of arterials and collectors in fair or better condition, and no more than 2 percent in very poor condition.
  • In 2017, only 50 percent of arterials and collectors were in fair or better condition, and 17 percent were in very poor condition. The number of roads in poor condition has been increasing for many years.
  • For the past three years, the city has completed 103 lane miles of paving each year.
  • It costs 10 times more to rebuild a road in very poor condition compared with preventative maintenance on a road in good condition.
  • Because the city’s roads continue to fall into further disrepair, the cost to meet the city’s goals for road conditions is $143 million annually for 10 years, up from $92 million annually for 10 years in 2013.
  • The extra costs to drivers due to deteriorated roads, such as increased wear and tear on vehicle suspensions and tires, adds up to hundreds of dollars each year. A recent study from AAA reveals that pothole damage has cost U.S. drivers approximately $3 billion annually.
PBOT’s revenues have significantly increased in recent years. The voter-approved gas tax brought in $19.9 million last year, well over the $16 million that was expected. In addition, last year the legislature passed a transportation package will increase the amount of funding the city receives. Prioritizing road maintenance now will save money in the future by avoiding the need to completely rehabilitate roads that have deteriorated to the point at which they can’t be repaired.

The good news is that construction season has begun in the city and PBOT is starting select road maintenance projects throughout the city due to the additional resources they have received. And, in the past year, the number of potholes PBOT has filled has grown considerably. It’s a good start, but more needs to be done to prevent an even higher percentage of roads from falling into poor and very poor condition. It’s time to make this a priority.

For official sweepstakes rules, click here.

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