Southington reveals plans for prioritizing road work

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To help town staff prioritize and keep track of road maintenance in Southington, the town will be using a new computer program, Streetscan, to help the public works department focus on the worst roads first.

Town Manager Mark Sciota explained $10 million is appropriated each four years for road up-keep.

“The biggest problem towns have is not keeping the infrastructure up,” he said at the Feb. 10 council meeting.

Town Engineer Annette Turnquist explained, “This program will give you the biggest bang for your buck for the next five years.”

Southington roads have an average pavement condition index of 76, which Turnquist said is “a pretty good average.” There are about 30 roads in town with a PCI of 50 or below.

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PCI, developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer, indicates the general condition of a pavement section. The index from a scale of 0 to 100 with 0 being the worst.

“It’s a slow, steady, ongoing process, and we need continuous maintenance,” she said. “Our backlog is at about $30 million, but even with endless funds, you can’t just throw $30 million out and wash your hands and say you’re done. Roads deteriorate over time, so it’s always going to be an ongoing process.”

The Streetscan program shows a road map of all the streets and provides information about each road’s condition. The program can be updated as construction is completed. As roads are completed, the program recalculates the average PCI and will recommend what roads should be re-assessed every three to four years.

Turnquist said in addition to the $10 million appropriation for roads and bridges, town staff regularly seek additional funding from the Town Aid to Roads program and Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program.

“A budget of this magnitude really just stops the bleeding,” said Turnquist.

The council approved unanimously a town manager introduced ordinance to appropriate $10 million for the 2020-2021 road and bridge improvement program.

The appropriation now heads to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a vote the Board of Finance. The ordinance then returns to the council for a hearing.

The council’s public hearing will be Monday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Municipal Center public assembly room.

If the ordinance passes the council, it will be a referendum question on the November 2020 ballot.

 To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at News@SouthingtonObserver.com.