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Paving the way

West Linn streets in steady decline since 1996
by: Vern Uyetake Bland Circle, between Fircrest Drive and Weatherhill Road is one of the worst streets in West Linn. The road is narrow and deteriorated.

With roads dating back 100 years and new developments popping up all the time, the condition of West Linn streets depends all on where you drive.

The city recently received a pavement condition report on its streets, a survey the city conducts every couple of years to assess the condition of the roads. The survey was presented to the city council during its March 12 work session.

It comes at no surprise that the worst streets are in West Linn's oldest neighborhoods - Willamette, Sunset and Bolton.

Overall, the city's streets have been on a steady decline since 1996. A new street is ranked at 100 and a street below 25 is considered failing. West Linn's streets average a ranking of 62 - falling in the middle of 'good' condition.

Almost half of the city's streets are in 'good' condition, with 23 percent ranked 'fair,' 17 percent ranked 'poor' and 12 percent labeled as 'very poor.'

One road that runs through West Linn is out of the city's control, however, and was not included in the survey. Highway 43 is a state-owned road that sees a high level of traffic. The Oregon Department of Transportation has offered the road to West Linn, but without a major overhaul, the city is not interested in taking on responsibility.

One of the city's worst offenders is Bland Circle, between Fircrest Drive and Weatherhill Road. The road, which is partly county- and partly city-owned, is so bad that a portion of it has been cut down to one way.

But the city's goal is to prevent streets from deteriorating to that level. Ken Worcester, interim public works director, said it is cheaper to maintain streets in good condition rather than waiting too long to address problematic roads.

The city looks at a street's age, condition and traffic volumes to determine when to fix a road.

A street in 'good' condition just requires slurry seal, a thin layer of aggregate, to preserve the street. The slurry seal costs about $1.20 per square yard.

For roads in 'fair' condition, a slurry seal or a thin overlay is required at a cost of up to $6 per square yard.

A thick overlay, costing up to $16 per square yard, is mandated for streets in 'poor' condition and reconstruction of failing streets can run up to $60 per square yard.

The city has 100.76 miles of road with the large majority (72.2 miles) of them being residential streets.

West Linn's worst streets are the 13.12 miles of collectors, like Pimilico, which averaged a rank of 55.

Worcester said the upkeep of Salamo Road is a top priority for the city because it is high volume road.

'We try to focus on collectors so they don't get to the failing point,' said Worcester.

Upcoming projects this year include $100,000 in slurry seals and $60,000 in crack seals. The city will place an overlay on Rosemont Road between Hidden Springs, and reconstruction projects will take place on Pine, Maple and Hemlock streets Fallsview Avenue and Munger Road.

West Linn will spend about $500,000 in 2012 on street maintenance and repairs. The funding comes from a $5.61 fee on monthly utility bills.

Using new funding from a gas tax revenue that was approved Jan. 1, 2011, the city hopes to allocate up to $800,000 next year for even more street projects.

'What we would really like to do is get to that $1 million without additional bonding,' said Worcester.

The city is also starting work on a new transportation system plan. The plan is currently in a preliminary stage.

Worcester said residents are encouraged to report any problems or concerns with city roads.

'We do a lot of minor repairs,' said Worcester. 'If you know of something, let us know. We want to stay on top of everything we possibly can.'

More information about street maintenance can be found at http://westlinnoregon.gov/publicworks/about-street-maintenance.