Feel good about your information and become a local news champion today

Calgary looking at millions more to improve pavement quality

An upcoming Notice of Motion would potentially see Calgary's overall pavement quality improve and be tied to the city budget.

Calgary city councillors are after better pavement quality in the city, and they’re hoping to invest in it today to save money tomorrow.

A Notice of Motion will come for technical review to Tuesday’s Executive Committee meeting that asks for a report on potential funding to improve Calgary’s overall pavement quality, plus tie the quality to the annual City of Calgary budget adjustment.

Right now, there’s a cumulative backlog of roughly $550 million in road work that needs to get done, according to the Notice of Motion, which has the support of eight councillors and the mayor.

The current annual budget for pavement rehab is $40 million, keeping 41 per cent of roads in good or very good condition. The current Canadian municipal average is roughly 60 per cent. Road quality is measured on the Pavement Quality Index.

Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong, who’s leading this work, said that 10 to 12 years ago the average pavement quality that was good or very good in Calgary was around 70 per cent. Today, it’s between 40 to 45, he said.

“I’m hoping that we can bring it back up to 50, or the national average,” Demong said.

Demong said that much of the deterioration is the result of budget adjustments over the past decade that have pared back cash for road improvements and rehab.

“The reason that roads can take the hit is because you can cut it and nobody notices it for five, six, sometimes 10 years. Well, guess what? It’s been five years and we’re starting to notice it,” he said.

A graph presented with the Notice of Motion shows that money spent on maintenance can often double the life of a road at considerably less cost than replacement.

Playing catch up

Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner, who also signed on to the motion, said that you can take short-term measures and have short-term solutions, however, “it bites you in the butt in the long run.”

“Deferred maintenance costs us more in the long run, and it’s really catching up to us. This is just one of those places that it’s showing up,” she said.

Penner compared it to doing regular maintenance on a car instead of having to replace the whole engine.

It’s also become a bigger issue to have roads in good condition as connectors for the city’s mobility network, Penner said.

Demong said he’s hoping that when the city tally’s its pavement quality index, it includes all the transportation pavement maintained by the city. He would also like to take this motion one step further and have the Pavement Quality Index (PQI) tied to the annual budget adjustments.

“Instead of us going back and forth – let’s cut the budget, let’s bump up the budget – let’s actually say we want to have an average rating of 60 per cent of PQI on all of our roads,” he said.

“If that’s what we want, let’s budget according to that.”

Right now, according to the Notice of Motion, the funding gap is between $50 million and $60 million annually to achieve the overall target of 60 per cent good and very good roads.

This motion will just be reviewed on technical merits at the Executive Committee meeting. If approved it would then go to a full meeting of Calgary city council for debate.