By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal
Cities are responsible for many of the things we often take for granted on a daily basis. However, if something isn’t right (no running water, trash cans not emptied, etc.) it is on the city to ensure that it is fixed. One of the major assets that a city is responsible for and that affects all citizens is road repair.
In 2007, the city of La Habra began what City Manager Don Hannah refers to as a “very ambitious task.” According to Hannah, the city was going to commit its resources to pave every road in the city. The city’s Residential Street Rehabilitation Program would split the city into quadrants, which would have city roads paved within six years. Each of the quadrants would then be broken up to comprise the six annual phases. With the start of the 2012-13 fiscal year, the city of La Habra has entered the last phase of the program.
According to La Habra’s City Engineer Chris Johansen, the city staff strategized and determined that the best way to go about this large of a task was to divide the city into manageable areas. Then, each street in these areas was evaluated and given a score which reflected the state of that street’s surface condition.
“The areas with the worst scores were scheduled to be completed earlier in the program and the areas with the best scores were scheduled to be completed later in the program,” Johansen explained.
However, some residents who reside in an area with a “better” score have concerns about the state of their roads.
“I feel for them and understand,” Hannah said. “We’ve been telling some residents for six years to hang on and we will get to it.”
He explained that some roads that fall within the area for Phase 6 have been fixed in order to ensure that they remain serviceable. But expressed happiness that residents in the final phase area will be getting their roads.
The cost for five years of the project (the cost for the final phase is still being determined) is just over $15 million. A majority of the money comes from federal grants and highway funding projects.
To further complicate things, Johansen explained that the city staff was also concerned about roadway damage from ruptured waterlines. So the program includes waterline repairs/replacement to occur (if needed) prior to rehabilitating the street surface. Ironically, it was a water line that helped resolve a somewhat complicated road repair issue within the city. La Presa Drive, which is along the northern border of El Cerrito Elementary School, was determined to be a private road and not a city road. For a roadway essential for school access, it was in disrepair after years of heavy traffic. As a private road, by law, it is the responsibly of the owners to maintain the road, despite the amount of use by school district vehicles.
For more than a year the city, school district and private homeowners facing La Presa discussed how to best resolve this issue. The school district budgeted funds to pay for the repair in front of their school. All that was remaining to be repaired was the portion of the road owned by residents. However, a water main had to be replaced, so the city replaced it and planned on paving a portion of the road.
With a splitting of the costs, the residents were able to pay for the remaining road repair. Completion of La Presa should be completed this month. Residents should see road repairs begin on the final quadrants by the end
of the year.