Potholes aren't the only problem when streets deteriorate.

They're bad for the vehicles, businesses, consumers, and city budgets.

But Casper needs to budget more sooner to maintain its half-billion-dollar streets asset if it wants to budget less later, a consultant told city council at a work session Tuesday.

In 2019, the city hired IMS Infrastructure Management Services, LLC, in Tempe, Ariz., to study its 285 miles of streets, and company manager Jim Tourek outlined the results to the council.

Figuring the average replacement for a typical roadway is $1,950,000 per mile, the city has $555,100,000 invested in its paved roads, not including the value of the land, according to the executive summary in IMS's report.

"They're the largest city asset," Tourek said.

IMS drove a laser road tester for about a week-and-a-half to assess the conditions of its nearly 6.2 million square yards of pavement, most of which is asphalt, Tourek said.

The road tester uses lasers to, in effect, take 3,000 pictures a second of road surfaces, and what it found will require serious attention, he said, citing IMS's report in the work session agenda. The report details road conditions of every block of every street in the city.

To analyze the data, IMS applied the pavement condition index -- PCI -- set by ASTM International, formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials.

The index is a ranking assessment of a pavement on a scale of 0 to 100. Roads with a score of between 85 and 100 have a score of "excellent." Those with a score of between 0 and 40 are considered "backlog" that are in poor or very poor condition that need full or partial reconstruction. A healthy street system will have a backlog of 10% or less.

Casper did not fare well, according to IMS's research:

  • The overall pavement condition has a rating of 59, compared to the national average of 60-65.
  • The number of streets rated excellent is 4.0% compared to the recommended minimum of 15%.
  • The backlog amount is 13.5% compared to the average value of 12%.

Casper isn't keeping up with pavement care, either.

"The current annual budget for Casper is $3.7M per year dedicated to pavement preservation and rehabilitation," according to the IMS report. "This will increase the backlog to 25% while reducing the average PCI to a 54 over 5 years."

The city would need to budget $6.6 million a year to keep the index at 59, and budget $7.5 million a year to keep the backlog at steady level, Tourek said.

The city should develop a pavement management system to best allocate money for maintenance, especially by repairing streets in good condition, he added..


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