Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group                                Hemlock Street between South Fourth and Fifth avenues might be one of the worst rated roadways in the city of Sequim.

Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group Hemlock Street between South Fourth and Fifth avenues might be one of the worst rated roadways in the city of Sequim.

Sequim staff plan repairs for roads damaged by winter weather

By Matthew Nash

Olympic Peninsula News Group

SEQUIM — Recent winter weather made some Sequim streets worse for wear.

Hemlock Street between South Fourth and Fifth avenues might be one of the worst rated streets in the city, and now drivers finding potholes at both ends of the road makes it hard to maneuver.

Matt Klontz, Sequim city engineer, said the road was rated about a 25 before the winter on the Pavement Condition Index, a study by consultants rating the pavement from 0-100 on how long it’ll last, but now it’s likely in the teens.

Two roads north, Prairie Street is in a similar condition, but city staff know the older roads in town are in bad shape.

David Garlington, Sequim public works director, told Sequim city councilors earlier this month that several streets in that area of the city are older roads where staff peeled sod off a field and put down asphalt.

“It’s almost amazing they’ve lasted as long as they did,” he said.

Throughout the year, city staff fill potholes and seal road cracks, but the cold mix and/or gravel they are laying down won’t last long, Garlington said.

City staff are considering purchasing a hot asphalt machine as one solution, and Klontz said they anticipate having a full inventory of winter damage to city streets in the weeks ahead.

Once compiled, he said they’ll put together a list for a contractor to perform repairs that might include full-depth dig outs in drier conditions, tentatively set for this summer. For now, city staff will continue to place cold-mix patches, Klontz said.

City rating

City staff do put bad roadways on their watch list when called, Klontz said.

They’ve used the Pavement Condition Index for about five years now as a way to rank projects to keep the overall streets at a higher rating, too.

Right now, the city is rated at 69, Garlington said.

“[A] 69 may sound bad, but I don’t think it really is all that bad,” he said.

“The aggregate of our city streets is [ranked] between good and fair and that’s not too bad. Every year that goes by, those streets degrade except for the ones we do repairs or an overlay to.”

Garlington said it would cost about $1.5 million a year to maintain a 70 rating.

However, he said the Pavement Condition Index algorithm shows them it can cost about four times more to fix a poorly rated street compared to preserving four to five streets of better quality.

Those living on poorly rated streets should see some relief in coming years, Garlington said.

“We’ve made a lot of progress here,” he said. “In a few years, we’re going to have many of those really bad streets in a condition that we’re not going to spend a ton of money on a small stretch of street. We’ll see a short-term drop, but a long-term upgrade to the citywide PCI.”

Brown Road is one project this summer that city staff said will improve its rating from a 55.

Klontz said they’ll preserve the pavement with a thin overlay and improve sidewalks at an estimated cost of $400,000 to $500,000 from Washington Street to Fir Street. They identified it because it could fail sooner due to its high traffic load, he said.

Road repair

While the priority projects are known, city staff said manpower and funding remain the key issues for repairing roads.

Garlington said the city continues to stretch dollars with chip sealing roads rather than paving, and city staff also seek out more economical and viable road materials.

They also are considering reducing street pavement widths because some are paved more than needed, he said.

Garlington said they’ve bumped up efforts for grants in recent years, an effort that has seen some success. By the end of 2016, the city accumulated about $3.6 million in transportation grants that can be used in the coming years.

However, Garlington said city staff have been working to increase the number of transportation projects while doing more design work in-house rather than paying consultants, but it’s led to slower delivery.

To help, Sequim city councilors approved in the city’s 2017 budget up to $68,000 for a temporary project engineer.

Annually, transportation revenue mostly comes from the city’s general fund at 5 percent to 7 percent of its total, Garlington said, accompanied by other sources such as the real estate excise tax, impact fees, sewer and water fees, and grants.

The Transportation Benefit District, approved in 2009, continues through April 2020 with a 0.2 percent retail sales tax within the city limits for safety, mobility, connectivity and accessibility transportation projects.

It generated about $643,000 in 2016.

Some of the city’s transportation projects in recent years include pavement preservation/rehabilitation, creating new sidewalks and repairing pavement.

Construction for one of Sequim’s worst sections, on Fir Street from Sequim Avenue to Fifth Avenue, tentatively will begin the end of this year or early next year.

For more information on the city of Sequim’s roads, call 360-683-4139 or visit www.sequimwa.gov.

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Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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