Road maintenance totals $5.5 million

John Scarffe, Nederland.  Maintenance on Nederland roads and streets could cost $5.5 million, according to a roads assessment conducted by JVA, Inc. During a regular meeting at 7 p.m., August 15, 2017, at the Nederland Community Center, Public Works Director Chris Pelletier told the Nederland Board of Trustees that the Town budgeted $5,000 to talk to the Town’s engineering consulting firm about the condition of the roads in the area.


“A road assessment study was performed by JVA Inc. to better understand costs to rebuild paved roadways in Nederland. Additionally, it is important to know what the costs are to maintain these roads in the future and to budget appropriately,” according to the agenda information memo.


“The Board recognizes the need for alternative funding to repair and maintain Nederland’s streets,” according to the memo. “Creating a separate tax based fund that supports road repair and improvements is one way to address Nederland’s crumbling infrastructure.”


This was discussed with engineers and some Trustees during last year’s budget planning. Staff was directed to work with JVA on a basic road assessment that identified costs to repair, rebuild and maintain Nederland’s roadways.


The Board recognizes that the General Fund does not sufficiently support the rising costs of maintenance and improvements that are needed for Nederland’s streets infrastructure, according to the memo. The Trustees would like to increase funding through a tax initiative.


Staff was directed to employ JVA Inc. to provide a basic assessment using $5,000 in funds to determine the sales tax increase possible, determine the amount needed for CIP operations, align these two figures over 20 years and decide what the tax increase will be.


The Board would need to approve a question for the Nederland ballot no later than August. “Paved roads in town continue to deteriorate with limited funds to make repairs. Most of the roads are in excess of 20 years old and have deteriorated beyond repair,” states the memo.


“Staff recommends moving this process forward to make much needed improvements to roads in the downtown business district. The alternative is to continue budgeting to make limited repairs to roads and explore other options for funding.”


Pelletier told the Board that the Town has 17 miles of road, four miles paved and 13 miles in gravel. In the assessment, each street and road was graded on a scale of one to five with five being failed. Failed means you can’t drive on it.


The cost analysis totaled $5.5 million overall, and $2.9 million for paved roads.


In addition, ongoing costs to maintain the streets and roads to have a proper amount of funds would be $36,000 per year for paved roads and $48,000 per year for dirt roads, Pelletier said.


In the past, Public Works has had about $10,000 per year for road maintenance, and this year they have $6,000 for patching. That covers one or two patches. “I’m not sure how far you want me to take this. The point of this was some kind of bond issue,” Pelletier said, recommending that the new Town administrator take this one step further.


“The Nederland Road Assessment serves as an extension of the Master Infrastructure Plan submitted to the Town in 2014,” according to the assessment. “This Assessment examines the current inventory and condition, and recommended improvements for the Town’s roadway infrastructure.


“Streetscapes, stormwater management, and erosion control are significant, operational and environmental issues for the Town. The two State Highways, CO-119 and 72, that intersect the Town, contribute to substantial runoff and erosion control issues around Town. Steep grades, high groundwater and sandy soils are all natural elements that contribute to the stormwater and erosion control issues,” according to the assessment.


“The Town has roughly 17 miles of total roadway with four miles consisting of asphalt paving and 13 miles consisting of gravel roads. The majority of local and collector roads are typically gravel or dirt in nature that require high levels of maintenance due to the frequent washouts.


“Portions of downtown streets, including Second, First, Griffith, and Bridge Street, north Big Springs Drive, and roads providing access to the Elementary School are currently paved with asphalt. To ensure adequate long-term drainage conveyance it is recommended that main collector streets are paved,” according to the assessment.


Trustee Dallas Masters pointed out page 6 of the assessment stating that gravel roads will cost $48,000. “You’re saying we pay $10,000 per year and we should be spending $48,000?”


“They agreed the roads are in bad shape. Grading practices are not meeting the standards they would like,” Masters said. “We need a bond to fix the roads and then a budget to keep them maintained. According to what they put here, they need a lot of work.”


Mayor Kristopher Larsen said the goal of this was to get an idea of what shape the roads are in and what it’s going to take to fix them. Trustee Alan Apt said that this is like maintaining your car. If you don’t maintain it, it costs twice as much later.


Mayo Pro-Tem Charles Wood said he’s come to the conclusion that we need a bond. Larsen said that three months from now is the election, or they could put it on an April election. That would give some time for the Town administrator to work on it.


“Let’s make this the April election, because we have Downtown Development Authority debt authorization on the November election,” Larsen said. “We can spend the next months working on it.”


Trustee Topher Donahue said the Town can do its own maintenance. If we have a little more time and wait for the Town administrator to work on it, we could consider something else besides paving. “We can put a little more thought into it.”


Rather than trying to pass a bond, do the school road one year and the other next year, Donahue said.


Trustee Julie Gustafson said they should share the assessment as a link on the Town’s Facebook page. The Board gave a nod of four to do that and to pursue further action on the road assessment.


Pelletier also gave an update on the State Revolving Fund for loans to finance the Biosolids project. This serves as public notice of the Town’s intent to apply for SRF funding by the October 15, 2017, deadline for water and waste water projects. JVA will come to the September 19 meeting to discuss this further.


Nederland will seek a loan for $2 million. Applying for the full cost of the project will help show the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) the Town’s commitment to the project. Applying for funds does not require the town to accept or use them.


It is the intent of Staff to acquire half the cost of this project from DOLA. The Town will need to decide whether to pursue a loan for 20 or 30 years. Additionally, this will have an impact on user rates.


“SRF is meant to help finance large projects at low interest rates for Colorado water utilities,” according to the agenda information memo. “These funds are controlled by the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority.”


This organization is not in the business of making money but rather growing the program. They offer low interest rates for borrowed money with loans offered for 20-or-30-year spans at 2 percent interest, according to the memo. The State evaluates the borrower and its project to ensure they meet the state’s criteria for a loan.


The Board approved the staff’s request to apply for Department of Local Affairs funding for half of the Biosolids project costs on July 21, 2017. Part of the criteria for a successful application for DOLA funding is securing funding from SRF, according to the memo.


Staff and JVA Inc. met with SRF representatives in March 2017. This meeting was to determine whether Nederland’s project would meet the criteria for state funding. “It was determined at this meeting that Nederland’s project was a good fit for SRF and that the financial health of the town is adequate to support a loan,” according to the memo.


“The next step of this critical path is to have a public meeting to describe the project and its impacts to residents. This meeting must take place at least 30 days prior to loan application. Staff will want to apply for SRF by October 30, 2017, in order to meet the requirement to be shovel ready in 2018 for DOLA funding.


The September 19, 2017, Board meeting will be good timing to meet this requirement. JVA and Staff will present an overview of the project and be on hand to describe and answer any questions from the public.


(Originally published in the August 31, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)