Turlock Roads Continue to Decay Without Proper Funding, Road Tax Still in Discussion

TurlockCityNews.com

The rough state of Turlock roads continues to be an important conversation amongst Turlock’s leaders and citizens, and while a solution is not on the table, collaboration and funds is necessary to finding the fix.

“I wish I could wave my magic wand and tell you how to fix it… but it’s a problem that we all have to figure out how to do together,” said Director of Development Services and City Engineer Mike Pitcock on Tuesday.

The Turlock City Council, City of Turlock staff, and residents gathered in City Hall on Tuesday to discuss the current status and look to the future on how to pay for road improvements.

Turlock roads have been deteriorating for years and now “at risk,” according to a survey completed by Nichols Consulting Engineers in 2013.

Nichols surveyed the road conditions around Stanislaus County and surveyed each road in Turlock individually using the Pavement Condition Index (PCI), a scale from 0 to 100. The results of that survey showed that Turlock roads were at a 67 PCI — which is considered “at risk.”

Failed roads score 0 to 24 PCI; poor roads score 25 to 49; at risk roads score 50 to 69; and good to excellent roads score 70 to 100.

According to the survey, 54 percent of Turlock roads were “good to excellent,” with 23 percent being “at risk,” 20 percent “poor,” and 3 percent “failed.

Compared to surrounding cities — which includes Modesto, Hughson, Ceres, Patterson, Waterford, Newman, Oakdale, and Riverbank — Turlock has the second worst roads, behind only Modesto (63 PCI); Hughson had the best roads (82 PCI).

The main cause of the decay of Turlock roads has been lack of funds dedicated to costly road repairs.

Currently, Turlock has approximately $1.25 million dedicated to road maintenance, which is combined from the Regional Surface Transportation Program, Gas Tax, and $50,000 from the General Fund.

However, according to staff, it would cost approximately $11.4 million per year over the next 20 years to bring Turlock roads back up to a “good” condition around 80 PCI.

With current funding, Turlock roads as estimated to fall to 33 PCI in 20 years, with many road around town failing.

As well as more roads failing, the cost of road repair would greatly increase as roads are neglected. According to Pitcock, the cost of a seal over a road is around $4 to $4.50 per square-foot, while a complete repaving is around $60 per square-foot.

For this reason, the City of Turlock’s plan for repaving roads would mean repaving newer roads that are in better condition before getting to the troublesome and worse roads, according to Pitcock. This was not met with much excitement from those in attendance on Tuesday, however Pitcock said it was about getting the best bang for the City’s buck.

“So it’s kind of contrary to what most people think, that you should take care of your worst roads first,” said Pitcock. “The problem is, if you take care of your worst roads first, the money doesn’t go very far."

"The idea again is get the most bang for your buck."

Pitcock also mentioned that those newer roads that are currently in assessment districts, which make up between 30 and 35 percent of the City, would not have been included in the repaving schedule under Measure B. Assessment districts are neighborhoods that pay extra fees yearly to have their roads repaved or sealed every seven years. Assessment districts are often the reason many question why the newer areas of town are being repaved so often — as assessment districts began after 1990.

However, with continued lack of funding, even assessment districts would be subject to failed roads.

While the City of Turlock is only dedicating a small amount of funds toward roads, those funds may actually decrease in coming years. Staff estimates that the Gas Tax in 2014-15 will generate $737,513, but will drop to $353,131 in 2015-16. According to Pitcock, this is because of fuel efficient vehicles using less gas, as well as the drop in gas prices.

Nonetheless, there needs to be more funds dedicated to Turlock roads, but where do they come from?

One option was the half-cent sales tax dedicated to Turlock roads, Measure B, which failed to receive the 66.7 percent approval necessary to pass in November 2014. The tax was estimated to generate approximately $5.6 million per year over the seven-year life of the tax.

While the tax may not have generated the necessary funds to improve Turlock roads, it would have at least kept the status quo.

“The status quo is the $5.6 million added to the current $1.2 [million],” said Pitcock. “If you’re wanting to improve the city system, you’re looking at something higher than that."

Roads were estimated to improve a bit in the short-term with the passage of Measure B, but would be back to around the condition in 20 years, if the City of Turlock could maintain the $6.25 million funding over the 13 years following the tax’s seven-year life.

For Mayor Gary Soiseth, the future of Turlock roads will have to come from multiple places.

“Whether we continue with the $50,000 from the general fund, do we increase that? Do we decrease that?” asked Soiseth. “So we have a lot of options."

Soiseth and Councilmember Steven Nascimento were recently appointed to an ad hoc committee to review the City of Turlock’s budget line-by-line to determine what necessary cuts or changes may need to be made.

The Mayor is also apart of the Stanislaus Council of Government, which will consider placing a countywide sales tax on the ballot in 2016. Soiseth previously said that he could not support Measure B in its November 2014 form. Soiseth will have the option to support a countywide tax, if he feels it will benefit the City of Turlock.

“I’m going to make sure I put all my weight behind it, if it’s the right thing for Turlock,” said Soiseth.

Some in attendance on Tuesday questioned whether a countywide tax would be able to pass with the 66.7 percent approval necessary and thought the possibility of another Turlock-based tax, similar to Measure B, would be more likely, after Measure B fell by only just over five percentage points. However, Stanislaus County Board Supervisor Vito Chiesa mentioned that the countywide tax in 2012 failed by only a few hundred votes.

A countywide tax will however be on a crowded ballot in 2016, according to Chiesa; the 2016 ballot will also feature a presidential race, as well as, according to Chiesa, several proposition asking for funding.

The future condition of local roads was not the only thing in question on Tuesday, many Turlock residents were also concerned with roads from a bicyclist or pedestrian perspective.
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The City of Turlock has been working on an Active Transportation Plan for several months, which would create a plan on how local roads would accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians.

“Although poorly paved roads are terrible, poorly planned roads are just as bad, if not worse that those that have no infrastructure at all,” said Elizabeth Claes, an activist for safer bicycling in Turlock and part of Bike Turlock.

Local residents, as well as members of the City of Turlock, have been working hard on the Active Transportation Plan. According to Pitcock, the plan is to have the plan completed in April.

While the plan cannot be implemented without funding, Pitcock added that having an Active Transportation Plan will greatly boost the City of Turlock’s chances of getting grants and other funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

"We’ve got lots of ideas, lots of dreams, lots of thoughts and desire, just gotta have the money to do it,” said Pitcock.

Funds are the big idea, however, and the question many had was how did Turlock roads get to this point?

For many years now, very little, if any, dollars from the general fund have been dedicated to roads. Last year, Turlock City Council approved $50,000 from the general fund to be dedicated to roads, however that was the first time in years that any money from the general fund went to roads.
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“I just think it’s something that, as times go on, I think there was a mechanism to build the roads, but I don’t know if there ever was a mechanism to maintain the roads,” said Pitcock.

The approximately $1.25 million is dedicated to roads each year, however that only pays for small projects. A larger project, such as the Monte Vista Avenue repaving, costs around $1 million or more, according to Pitcock. Larger projects are typically paid for through grants, which according to Pitcock, are a multi-year process to receive.

Other street maintenance, such as pothole filling, is not paid for through the $1.25 million for roads, it’s funded by the Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Department budget.

Allison Van Guilder, Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Department Manager, could not provide an exact dollar amount pulled from her department’s budget for road maintenance, but did mention the department has difficulty securing the best asphalt mix to fill Turlock potholes.

Nonetheless, the City of Turlock will continue the conversation of funding for roads in the near future as local roads continue to decay without funding.

“Somebody out there asked me, ‘How did we get here?’ And I said, ‘I don’t care, we’re here,’” said Soiseth. “So we’re going to figure out exactly where we are and move forward." 

Comments 20

  1. TJ says:

    We are turning into a 3rd world cesspool. We are flooded with illegal Mexican nationals and Latino gangs here. It takes money and resources to pay for the programs and services they use. Policing them is expensive. Imagine if we had those resources available to do basic things like maintain our infrastructure.

  2. Guest says:

    We also have too many yuppie people like yourself. Remember where you live? If you were somebody you wouldn’t be living in the Central Valley.

  3. Guest says:

    Please TJ. Take a look through Turlock City News and you’ll see that just as many white people are getting arrested and in gangs. Quit trying to make this a race thing when it’s not.

  4. Guest says:

    Please TJ, take a look through Turlockcitynews.com and you’ll see that just as many white people are committing crimes. Quit trying to make this a race thing when it’s not.

  5. TJ says:

    I’m actually one of the few people around here paying significant taxes, but not for much longer.This area used to be a good place to live, and now it’s not. And yes, it’s true, people of various ethnicities around here join gangs and commit crime, but stop being disingenuous, the largest and most problematic gangs driving crime and blight in the area are the Chicano-led gangs (Nortenos, Surrenos, etc.) and the Mexican narco cartels (yes, they operate in places like Modesto).
    As far as the ever-growing population of Mexican nationals settling in the area…..where are they going to work?? How are they going to raise the 4 kids on average that they have. The farmers that haven’t already mechanized those jobs only need labor for about 6 weeks during harvest. We already have a high unemployment rate in the area. So to all you blue-collar people out there….good luck competing with illegal slave wages.

    As far as “making it about race”….I hear all the time around here how Latinos are taking back “what was once theirs”. As far as I’m concerned, they can have it. Because this area is going down fast.

  6. Guest says:

    That’s good. Go back your bags and take your significant tax dollars somewhere else. You have more white tweaker thieves that victimize the working class than Latinos. Ignorance is no excuse. Also so you know some of the most wealthiest families in this town that pay significant taxes have children that rip and thief as well. That’s a fact. Nobody is immune

  7. Guest says:

    Everybody pays a significant tax regardless of the wages they earn. Some pay more than others but some don’t make as much as other so taxes are significant for everybody regardless.

  8. Guest says:

    Sure. We all pay taxes-even if it’s just sales taxes on what we buy. The problem is that many people in the valley, after their child tax credits, foodstamps, Section8 housing, Cash Aid, TANF, and criminal activities, end up using more public resources than what they contribute to the system.
    I wish someone would answer TJ’s questions about the illegal aliens in the Valley: where ARE they going to work in this valley when theres already 10% unemployment? how do they support the 4 kids on average that they have? what about American citizens like me that have to compete with them and their low wages?

  9. Trying to contribute says:

    I don’t mind paying taxes to do things like fix roads and have a clean 1st-world standard of living like we expect in this country. My parents are legal immigrants who raised their 2 kids to be clean, respectable citizens. I had 1 kid because that’s what we could afford without taking handouts. I realize that my choices and actions impact my community.

    Illegal immigrants bother me because there are so many here and they are using public services and public roads, having multiple children that they can’t afford (Mexican immigrants’ average is 4), and looking for what this country can do for them without thinking of what they can do to contribute. Let’s face it, most of these immigrants don’t pay much in taxes because of:
    low wages
    working under the table, usually while collecting public assistance at the same time
    working for corrupt labor contractors who cook their books to avoid taxes

    And then, instead of even spending their money here to help our economy here, they send a ton of it to Mexico. It’s a fact…remittances from the U.S. to Mexico are one of the few things keeping the Mexican economy going.

    So….I don’t mind paying taxes, but I don’t want to give a free ride to people selfishly draining the system.

  10. Guest says:

    They are the reason you can go to the store and buy produce. One of the few that pays significant taxes. You are a joke. Like you are somebody. You live in Turlock, CA lol

  11. Mechanization..... says:

    Not really. Farms are increasingly using machines to pick crops. And the farmers who still use stoop labor, only need them few weeks during harvest. The rest of the year immigrants collect welfare and piddle around doing other unskilled jobs. 57% of foreign born Mexicans are on welfare with their kids. Here’s the report. http://www.cis.org/2012-profile-of-americas-foreign-born-population#birth
    Technology is wiping out picking jobs. There are even machines for picking strawberries now. We do not need more unskilled laborers in this country. Period.

  12. Guest says:

    more white folks on welfare. Period

  13. Augustus Bolinger says:

    While you all are bickering over who gets more freebies from the government I have a real solution to bring forth that no one can deny is the most logical: instead of taxing the good working people of this sad dying ruined town to fix the roads, why not fine the Illegal Mexicans that are committing daily hit and runs and vehicular manslaughter, running entire families including toddlers over on sidewalks, crashing into houses, driving drunk, hitting multiple cars then fleeing scenes, driving without licenses, etc.? Make them stay in work camps until they come up with the 11 mil needed to complete the repairs. That’s fair!

  14. Good idea but..... says:

    Good idea, but that would never happen because the democrats would never pass such a law .
    They are the future voters that the democrats cater to.

  15. Guest says:

    More white folk arrested and found guilty in court and clogging our justice system than any other race. Fact

  16. I blame Sosieth says:

    I went to the road meeting, what a joke. Sosieth stand up and be a man, admit YOU did NOT support Measure B, quit blaming anyone else. All money from Measure B would have fixed current roads, it was for maintenance, which was for seven years, and our roads would have been fixed. I blame Sosieth and all of the lies he told. Shame on you.

  17. taxpayer says:

    Here’s where I see the worst, most decayed streets–the westside between Lander, 99, and West Main. This is also the part of town where much of the crime, murders, drive-bys between rival Norteno subgangs, shootings, stabbings, and general misery and mayhem happens.
    I used to live in that junkheap many years ago and it has only got worse. But the worst problem there isn’t the potholed streets and cracking pavement. It’s the people. Until they can figure out how to stop dropping kids they can’t afford, shooting and stabbing each other, and how to improve themselves and their community……I’m not willing to pay one more PENNY in taxes to fix the streets there.

  18. Guest says:

    Sierra Drive residents got their alleys paved and one of the Residents on that road has a son that’s one of the biggest thieves in town. No part of town is immune

  19. dad says:

    What i see when im dodging pot holes on the road is our city workers doing nothing but waisting fuel driving around looking like they are hard at work. They make good money for playing patty cake with each other all day.
    Lol

  20. Postal says:

    It doesn’t help when city crews go around patching pot holes and not using ss1 and a wacker to pack in the material they patched goden state the other day and did not prep the holes properly nor did they compact them correctly I talked to them and all they did was complain they have the wrong attitude for the job and they don’t want to listen

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