The City of Merced completed several major street projects this year, and has one underway that is scheduled to wrap up before Christmas. Along with the roadwork, there were a number of sidewalk projects that were completed to benefit pedestrians and students.
“We know roadwork isn’t the most pleasant thing for drivers and businesses, and we apologize for it,” said City Engineer Mike Beltran, “But the end result is worth it. The bottom line is that we have to maintain our streets. It’s an investment we need to make. It’s just like your house, you have to keep a good roof on it, or it can lead to all sorts of problems.”
“We have hundreds of miles of streets in our City that we need to maintain and it’s a big job,” said Steve Carrigan. “We’ve filled 28,399 potholes in the first nine months of 2019, and that’s just the minor fixes to our street system. But we need to stay on top of fixing the potholes so they don’t create major problems with the rest of our street.
“We do have a plan for fixing and maintaining the City’s roadways, unfortunately we don’t have the funding to do it all overnight,” Carrigan said. “For example, M Street is a major north-south arterial through the City. It is being repaired in stages, so we address the worst sections first. Sometimes it looks like we are jumping around with the M Street repairs, but there is logic to what we are doing.”
The number of street projects has increased in Merced, and will continue to go up because there is more funding available. Locally, in 2016 Merced County voters approved Measure V, a half-cent sales tax. It is for transportation projects ranging from new roads to pothole repairs to fixing sidewalks and installing bike lanes. SB 1 is the statewide tax measure that covers a wide-range of transit projects from freeways and rail to road repairs and other transit modes. Funding for other street projects comes from federal sources and local tax funds.
Since it was approved by voters, the City has spent $2,743,295 on Measure V projects. The City has spent $1,529,296 on SB 1 projects since it was adopted.
Usually projects are funded through a variety of sources, depending on what is being done. If a water or sewer line is included in the work, that fund will pick up some of the cost. Other times federal, state or local road funds are blended with Measure V and SB 1 monies to make a project pencil out.
“People are going to see our contractors out more often as more dollars become available,” Beltran said. “We have a long list of streets we want to work on.”
The last major street project underway this year is the M and Main Street Improvement Project. The project includes the installation of a new storm drain and a grind and overlay of the street on Main, between N and M, and a full reconstruction of M Street between Main and 18th Street. Funded mostly by Measure V, it is budgeted at $1,304,305 and will wrap up by the week of Dec. 3.
Other street projects already completed this year include:
· M Street (Rambler to Bear Creek), roadway reconstruction, mostly Measure V, $577,636.
· N Street (8th to Childs) roadway reconstruction and water main replacement, Regional Surface Transportation Program funds (RSTP) through Caltrans and some water system funds, $1,250,343.
· Yosemite Avenue (San Augustine to Hwy 59) roadway reconstruction, largely SB-1 and RSTP, $2,173,480.
· Scrub seal projects to rejuvenate the roadways, Measure V and SB 1, $344,203:
Merced Avenue (Motel to Parsons)
Canal Street (Childs to 16th)
26th Street (G to M)
El Portal Drive (G to Joerg)
There is plenty of roadwork in Merced’s future, as the Engineering Division has seven projects in various stages of design. The projects, and the amounts budgeted for them, are:
G Street (Childs to 13th) $394,193
B Street (Childs to 15th) $1,480,000
Canal Street (19th to RR) $67,930
R Street (Loughborough to Yosemite) $282,064
R Street (16th to 18th) $1,648,104
V Street (16th to 18th) $475,095
Alpine Drive (G to Wainwright) $225,000
Pedestrians have appreciated the sidewalk work that was completed this year using the available funding. Measure V and SB 1, for example, sets aside money for improving sidewalks to encourage people to walk rather than drive.
Sidewalk projects completed this year include:
· Buena Vista: Speed table on Buena Vista near Rivera and replacing 14 ADA ramps, Community Development Block Grant (federal funding), and Measure V, $388,761.
· John Muir: Speed table near John Muir and install ADA ramps and new sidewalk on 25th between I and K Streets, Community Development Block Grant, Measure V and other funding, $296,052.
· Various Sidewalk Replacements, SB-1, $74,881.