September 26, 2016

What is the best way to address the poor state of the roads in Berkeley Heights? 

There are actually more important issues going on in the town then roads, such as the lack of communication and trust in the town government, cronyism, and the $27M new municipal building that is being forced on us through the SWAP initiative, Poor road conditions are certainly an annoyance and we are constantly reminded of potholes and deteriorating storm drains.

I believe there are multiple issues here: 
* While a 15 year plan is in place, the plan has some anomalies: there are roads that are rated in good condition that are getting done prior to others that are in poor condition.
* There is lack of planning by the town to sync up with utility companies when redoing the roads. 
* Patching is done poorly often using the wrong process/materials resulting in costly rework.
* Poor rated roads are left unfixed for much too long resulting in damage to cars and safety hazards.
* Residents have limited visibility into when roads are going to be fixed.

I propose corrections to address these issues. Road clusters need to be redefined. Currently a cluster is a group of roads based only on location. The priorities for fixing are based on the average condition of a cluster. Clusters could be created based on both location and condition of roads in the cluster. This will require a computer program rather than the current manual process which is suboptimal. Milling machines may need to be moved more frequently in a given year but the cost is surely less than the cost of paving a road that is still in good condition. Some roads are eligible for state or county aid and the program can take that into account as well. With proper planning no aid will be lost.

With an optimal solution I expect that all poor condition roads can be done in the next 2 years for about the same or less money than is given in the current plan. In the following 2 years we could do the poor-fair rated roads.

Sync with utilities prior to repaving a road. Why repave a road if it will be dug up in the next 5 years?

Patch correctly: Use a propper “hot mix” processes for a longer term fix instead a temporary “cold-patch”.

I would also like to see on the town website a current status of each road and when it is scheduled to be fixed.