Morrisville might give aging roads some attention

aramos@newsobserver.comFebruary 6, 2014 

Motorists tend to avoid a big pothole on Perimeter Park Drive in Morrisville. Town staff want elected leaders to increase funding over the next few years so the town can repair some of the aging streets.

ALIANA RAMOS — aramos@newsobserver.com

  • Proposed $1.5 million in Morrisville road spending

    69 percent: road maintenance

    14 percent: new sidewalks

    6 percent: new roads

    3 percent: street signs

    3 percent: sidewalk maintenance

    2 percent: parking lot

    2 percent: traffic calming

    1 percent: snow removal

— The town might spend about $1.5 million over the next five years to repair aging roads.

Morrisville hasn’t been spending enough money to keep up with a growing need, said Blake Mills, public works director for the town.

At the Town Council’s planning retreat in Wilmington last month, Mills made his pitch for more funding. Tony Chiotakis, director of community services, joked that the presentation was like “Shark Tank,” the Fox show in which entrepreneurs pitch ideas to a panel of investors.

Chiotakis wasn’t far off. Town staff are asking elected leaders to make an investment in Morrisville’s aging – and growing – street system.

The average street lasts about 15 to 20 years before needing significant repair work, Mills said.

In Morrisville, 44 percent of the streets have reached maturity, and another 34 percent are expected to age out this year, according to a third-party analysis, Mills said.

As the town has grown, it has become responsible for more roads. Between 2008 and 2013, its road inventory grew from about 26 miles to 45 miles.

Most of the new roads are due to new development and the town taking over private streets.

Mills asked the Town Council to spend about $300,000 more over the next five years to make some gains and do proactive work. The request will be part of the budget draft, which the council is expected to tackle in the next few months.

The Town Council must approve a budget by July 1.

Mills proposed a new approach to street work.

“Our consultants are recommending that we treat roads where we can do preventative work first rather than roads in the worst shape, because we can save money there,” he said. “The roads that are in bad shape can’t get much worse, but we can do some patching.”

Council members seemed receptive to the idea.

“I like (the) approach of blending fixing new roads and older roads,” said Councilwoman Vicki Scroggins-Johnson. “I’m from Michigan, and when I visit I know I’m home by the potholes I hit. I like the idea of being proactive.”

In the past, the town has relied heavily on Powell Bill funding to pay for street work. Funds from the Powell Bill come from the state and are earmarked for streets, sidewalks and greenways.

For years, however, Morrisville has been dipping deeper into its own coffers to play catchup.

In 2008, Morrisville spent about $227,000 on road repair and maintenance. About 99 percent came from Powell Bill funding. This fiscal year, the town is set to spend about $940,000, with only about 50 percent coming from Powell Bill funding.

Ramos: 919-460-2609; Twitter: @AlianaCaryNews

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