Have your say on improving Berkeley’s streets, watershed

Residents attended a meeting in early May to learn about the planning process for Measure M spending. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Residents attended a meeting in early May to learn about the planning process for Measure M spending. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Residents interested in street improvements and the city’s watershed have two chances this week to get involved in the discussion about how to spend millions of dollars in Measure M funds that are expected to start flowing into city coffers next year.

Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council will hold a special work session on Measure M. Then Thursday, the Public Works Commission will discuss the city’s proposed updated five-year paving plan, which helps determine Measure M priorities. (Scroll to the bottom of this story for details.)

The five-year paving plan is the main document that will drive Measure M improvements. The council is scheduled to approve the next five-year plan in November. (See the current-year paving plan here.)

The 2013-17 paving plan is pictured here. The plan is updated annually.

The 2013-17 paving plan is pictured here. The plan is updated annually. Click the image to read more about the 2013-17 paving plan. Image: City of Berkeley

Measure M allocates $30 million toward street and watershed improvements. Exactly how the money will be spent will be determined between now and November when the Berkeley City Council will vote on the spending plan. The money is supposed to begin flowing toward projects in January.

According to the staff report prepared for Tuesday’s work session, the plan submitted to council in November will identify the individual street projects, with green infrastructure elements, for the first two years of spending, along with projected funding levels for the following three three years.

The city plans to use a special computer program, called “StreetSaver,” to help set the priorities for street improvements going forward. The program looks at criteria like pavement condition, cost effectiveness and type of repair needed to set the priority. The hope, according to the staff report, is that the program will allow the city to raise the overall Pavement Condition Index in “the optimum way.”

The city will then cross-reference the StreetSaver suggestions to coordinate with other city programs and known utility company work. The budget will be split across four types of work: arterials (10%), collectors (50%), residential streets (25%), and concrete and discretionary spending (15%). Streets with bicycle or AC Transit bus routes noted in the city’s Bicycle Plan will get special consideration, as will contiguous blocks.

The Measure M scorecard. Click to view larger. Image: City of Berkeley

The Measure M scorecard. Click to view larger. Image: City of Berkeley

The last step in the process will be the use of a special scorecard, which the city says will likely give added priority to some streets that do not have a high ranking based on StreetSaver or Street Repair Policy criteria: “These are primarily small residential streets with low traffic volumes, and are not bicycle or transit routes. As a result of the Scorecard Evaluation process, these residential streets may become eligible for funding and inclusion in the 5-Year Street Paving Plan.”

The city estimates that, with the increase in funding from Measure M, 36 additional miles of roadway will be paved over five years. The actual miles will depend on what types of treatments are used, and how much green infrastructure is added.

Starting in the spring, the city plans to accelerate the paving plan for “traditional pavement overlays” for streets that are already in the existing plan, as well as for additional streets identified that will help improve the pavement index. Design has already begun for the former.

Then, next summer, the second construction contract will focus on reconstructions and green infrastructure: “It’s anticipated that green infrastructure included in the first year of construction will consist of bio-retention swales at 4-5 locations, and cisterns (underground storage to help reduce flooding) as identified in the Watershed Management Plan at one location.”

Anticipated increased funding levels for street improvements over the next five years. Image: City of Berkeley

Anticipated increased funding for improvements through 2018. Image: City of Berkeley

A year from now, on Oct. 1, 2014, the City Council is scheduled to approve a Request for Proposals for engineering design services related to paving and green infrastructure projects scheduled for 2015 and beyond.

In the current fiscal year, the city plans to appropriate $2.5 million, with $6 million annually moving forward. In the first year, the city anticipates spending $1.2 million on paving and reconstruction; $800,000 on green infrastructure; $200,000 on 2014 design services; and $300,000 on design services for the following year.

The city already has $3.4 million available for street funding from the state transportation tax, Measure B and the General Fund.

Those with questions can email Ray Yep of the Public Works Commission at rayyep1@gmail.com, or Sherry Smith of the League of Women Voters at president@lwvbae.org. The public may also send comments to PWEngineering@cityofberkeley.info. The city has received an estimated 50 comments in writing. See many of them here, beginning on page 12, along with an overview of the past public process in 2013 related to Measure M. In the public comments, Wildcat Canyon Road, Grizzly Peak Road, Alvarado Road, Panoramic Hill and Derby Street were among the most-cited areas of concern.

Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council will hold a special work session at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Then, on Thursday, the Public Works Commission will meet at 7 p.m. at the North Berkley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave.; part of that meeting will focus on the city’s proposed updated five-year paving plan. The city has posted a wide range of Measure M-related materials online here. Find many related Measure M resources also on Berkeleyside at the bottom of this July 2013 story.

Related:
Scorecard would help determine Measure M projects (07.18.13)
Second Measure M planning meeting comes Saturday (06.16.13)
City asks residents to brainstorm Measure M spending (04.23.13)
South Berkeley neighbors ask city for help to improve (04.19.13)
Ambitious public works program falls short of need (03.21.13)
Pensions, infrastructure key Berkeley budget liabilities (02.20.13)
Budget: Spending cuts needed to avoid shortfall (01.28.13)
Council supports Sunday Streets, looks to find funds (01.25.13)
Berkeley General Fund revenues may fall short in 2012-13 (12.12.12)
Average Berkeley street in at-risk condition, many worse (11.16.11)

Berkeleyside publishes many articles every day. To see all our stories in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out our All the News grid.

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  • Chris J

    The streets of Our town are pretty poor, generally, and the funds this provides should be helpful, obviously. I’m amused by the need to involve residents in this process as street paving is not their general area of expertise, one would guess, and how could a typical resident even begin to consider telling professionals who maintain our streets how to do their job–and where. What is simply a practical decision making process now becomes a local issue, rife with political overtones and bias.

    I’m one of those simple residents who couldn’t care less which streets get paved and which do not. I’ll end up on them on my bike or car eventually and enjoy their benefits, I’m sure. I just don’t really get why Joe Sixpack would need to put in her opinions on a street maintenance issue.

    It’s no different than telling the garbage collectors who might clean the streets and wake me up at 6am to come later. I’ve got enough on my plate to not begin worrying about these sorts of decisions,

  • emraguso

    Tonight’s meeting will be at 1901 Hearst Ave (the North Berkeley Senior Center) — the location was changed from a prior location.