Residential streets in Aurora are getting some overdue repairs. The Aurora City Council approved a plan to fund the neighborhood improvements and bring the city's street network back to good condition.
According to national standards, the condition of 58% of the city's overall street network was rated as fair or below. Nick Johnson, Aurora's engineering supervisor for capital improvements, says improving roads has tremendous community value.
"A higher quality road network leads to fewer vehicle issues, from hitting a pothole and popping tires or messing with your alignments. The quality of life in a city with a higher maintained network feels better," said Johnson. "People are more comfortable getting out and going to places and taking advantage of opportunities that come from living in a large, diverse city."
He says well-maintained roads are a large part of public safety, allowing emergency responders to better travel.
Roadwork has already begun in some of the 35 neighborhoods with the greatest need for improvement. Over the next five years, the city plans to invest $165.5 million in roadway maintenance.
"When they came in and said they're going scrape two inches off and put a whole new surface on, that was a miracle. I mean, we're back to brand new here," said Stan Fossum, HOA President of the Water's Edge neighborhood.
Fossum's watched the roads age in Water's Edge for nearly 30 years. The highest street assessment score a neighborhood can get is 100. Prior to roadwork in his neighborhood, the score was 45.
"They didn't waste any time. The cul de sac was all done in a couple of hours," Fossum said. "Sometimes you put up with things and you don't pay too much attention to it, but it made me realize this is better. Way better."
The economic downturn in 2008 was the start of many neighborhood road projects being put on the back burner. Street maintenance is usually funded through the city's general fund. Since there is a limited amount of funding available, street maintenance funds were dedicated primarily to arterial roads.
To address neighborhood roads, the city council agreed to use certificates of participation to provide additional funding for residential street maintenance.
The city says the use of certificates of participation will allow them to borrow funding by pledging several city assets as collateral until the funding is repaid over time.
Councilman Dustin Zvonek brought forward a plan to address the unfunded gap the city had in road maintenance when he was a member of the Citizens Advisory Budget Committee. As a cyclist, he knew firsthand how needed the roadwork was.
"The final thing was we created a standalone road maintenance fund and dedicated revenue to that fund to ensure that the new debt maintenance was paid for and that going forward, we would never find ourselves in this position again," said Zvonek.
The city says the initial phase of projects will be focused on concrete repair, followed by paving work. Individual projects will be prioritized based on the severity of street conditions.
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