State budget has street-level effects on Zebulon

amoody@newsobserver.comSeptember 16, 2013 

— Only one of the eight Zebulon-maintained streets said to be in the poorest condition will see any kind of attention this year.

The lull in roadway repair was triggered when the town board was forced to adopt its budget for the current year before the General Assembly decided to extend hold harmless funds. That meant the town had to assume it would be without about $400,000 in revenue, issued to municipalities that haven’t financially recovered from the legislature’s 1988 decision to repeal the inventory tax.

a result, Zebulon set aside $45,000 for street repairs this year instead of the normal $200,000, two-year allotment. A study in the spring showed about 10 percent of all town-maintained streets need to be repaved, but without enough funding to mill and overlay all eight concern areas, Zebulon Public Works Director Chris Ray was left to devise a Plan B.

“Because we didn’t have the funds, we’re taking a different approach and trying to use spot repair and crack sealing to extend the useful life of those streets,” Ray said. “It’s not as aesthetically pleasing, but it’s a means that can be successful to extend useful life.”

The expected life of a freshly paved road is 20 years, Ray said. He expects the quick fixes will last up to five years.

Only part of one of the eight flagged roads – the 400 and 500 blocks of West Franklin Street – was pegged for even short-term repairs this year. The reason for that, Ray explained, is that it would not be cost effective to spend money repairing the other seven sections knowing they will need to be completely repaved before the useful life of any repairs runs out.

Repairs are being made, however, in other areas of town that can benefit from them.

“It’s putting a Band-Aid on a big wound,” Ray said of repairing streets that really need to be repaved. “(The roads) don’t get better. We’re hoping to repave next year.”

An annual street survey ranked each town-maintained road on a 100-point scale based on 10 criteria, including cracks, ruts, raveling and potholes. For years, the town has considered any street rated less than 80 to be in need of repaving.

The West Franklin stretch, which was recently repaired, was rated second-worst in town with a rating of 73.

The critical areas that will not see any repairs this year include the 500 block of North Poplar Street and the 400-900 blocks of North Wakefield Street, which tied for the worst rating at 68.

A 1,000-foot span of Cambridge Drive and the 100-300 blocks of North Poplar Street shared the third-worst rating of 75. All of Pitt (77) and Coventry (79) streets, and the 500-600 blocks of North Gill Street (79) round out the eight areas that are not up to par.

Asphalt repair and spot paving to the tune of $23,000 have already been completed. The remaining $22,000 will be spent on crack sealing in an effort to prevent water from reaching the stone base below the asphalt.

Moody: 919-829-4806

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