By MARK J. SCIOTA
To the Editor:
On Nov. 3, 2020, there will be a $10 million referendum for road improvements on the ballot. If approved, it is a serious responsibility to utilize these funds as effectively as possible.
The following outlines steps already taken and future plans to ensure the residents of Southington receive the best possible result regarding the condition of their public roads. In the fall of 2019, the town invested in a pavement management study. StreetScan, Inc., was retained to analyze all 214 miles of road. They detected pavement surface distresses using vehicles equipped with 3D cameras and optical devices and used trained algorithms to evaluate and prioritize pavement repairs.
A pavement condition index (PCI) was calculated for every road segment. PCIs range from 0 to 100, with 0 meaning failed, and 100 being excellent. The average PCI for Southington roads is 76, which is in the good category. Many roads fall into the excellent category with PCIs between 85 and 100. However, there are also roads with PCIs in the 30s, indicating a very poor road condition. Having an average PCI of 76 and roads in the excellent category are direct results of the two previously passed referendums, $11 million in 2012 and $11 million in 2014. But it is imperative to stay on this path and commit to on-going, continuous road maintenance.
The 2020 referendum for $10 million would allow the town to invest $2.5 million per year for four years. Including other funding sources, between $3 million and $3.5 million would likely be available annually.
This amount would allow the average PCI to remain somewhere in the good category. As roads are being improved, others are deteriorating. The longer roads are allowed to deteriorate, the more expensive they are to repair. It is an endless cycle requiring continuous maintenance. It is a slow, steady, on-going process, not a finite project. To ensure the referendum funds are used most effectively, the town will utilize StreetLogix software obtained in conjunction with the StreetScan assessment. The program is completely customizable regarding treatments (full-depth reconstruction, mill and overlay, overlay only, crack seal, etc.), PCI range corresponding to each treatment, and unit cost for each treatment. The program takes budget numbers and duration into account. For example, $3 million annually for four years.
Using the customized treatment and budget information, StreetLogix produces a prioritized plan having the most profound effect on PCI. The program considers the road network as a whole, eliminates any bias and ensures the most overall improvement to pavement condition.
It is beneficial in many ways for the Town of Southington to have a road network in good condition. High-quality infrastructure helps to attract new businesses, maintain existing ones and draw patrons of such businesses, therefore, promoting the economic well-being of the town. Well-maintained roads encourage people to move to Southington and provide a better way of life for existing residents. Traveling about town for work, errands or leisure is safer, more comfortable and more enjoyable on roads in good condition. Healthy, outdoor activities such as cycling are encouraged.
Overall, investing in on-going road maintenance is investing in the quality of life for all Southington residents, business owners and visitors.
Mark J. Sciota
Southington Town Manager