Most of the money for roads in cities, counties, and the state comes from gas taxes. Gas tax money is down, but road miles traveled are up. Cars are more efficient these days, so not as much gas is needed, but toads still need fixing. Where should the money come from?
The source of new road funds is not the topic of this post, but it is an important part. Sometimes, no matter where money comes from the need outstrips the revenue available.
In the last few years, the Budget Committee has devoted money from the General Fund to supplement the street fund. But is it enough? According to the current Capital Improvement Project (CIP) list for the 5-year period from 2015-2016 to 2020-2012, no.
Citywide Resurfacing, Crack Sealing, and Patching (Additional Capital Needed for a Citywide Pavement Condition Index rating of 70 through FY 2018-19)
The Pavement Condition Index is a rating for the condition of roadways from 0-100, 100 being the best. Here's what the Director of Washington County Department of Land Use and Transportation has to say about its PCI:
The Valley Times, August 4, 2016, by Geoff Pursinger
As gas tax dries up, Washington County roads worsen
The Washington County Department of Land Use and Transportation is charged with maintaining the county’s many roads and bridges, but has been unable to keep up with needs over the last few years, thanks to a budget shortfall that Andrew Singelakis, director of the department, blames on an influx of environmentally-friendly cars.
“We’re seeing a decline in our road conditions,” he said. “We see it on annual basis. It’s gradually declining.”
The money to maintain Washington County’s many roads, bridges, culverts, traffic signals and street lights largely comes from state and county gas taxes, but county officials say that the influx of hybrid and electric cars — which use little to no gasoline — have meant fewer gas tax dollars, making it difficult to keep up with the county’s aging, and expanding, road system.
“There is a lack of awareness by the general public about what goes into it all,” Singelakis said.
“There is a backlog of maintenance needs that are not readily visible to the public,” Singelakis said. “There is a lot going on under the road that people can’t see. Just because it looks OK doesn’t mean that it is. It could easily fall into a state of disrepair.”
Cities and counties rate their roads on a scale of 1 to 100. Known as the pavement condition index, or PCI, counties are able to keep track of how well their roads are doing.
Currently, Washington County rates their roads at about 77 percent. A fair number, Singelakis said, but that number is on the decline.
Once it gets down into the low 70s, you’re looking at roads needing to be completely reconstructed,” Singelakis said. “We don’t want it to get that low.”
“We needed this addressed two years ago,” Singelakis added. “It’s an ongoing issue. The sooner this is fixed, the better.”
Lake Oswego's goal in 5 years is to get up to PCI of 70.