The City provides facilities for the safe and efficient movement of vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists around the community. To do this, Public Works provides the following services:
- construct and maintain the street system
- provide and maintain bicycle paths and lanes
- ensure that proper street name, speed limit, traffic control and directional signs are installed and visible
- maintain accurate pavement markings
- repair sidewalk deficiencies
Each of these services include a variety of tasks or maintenance activities. The majority of the activities we perform are directed by the community's values and the need for safety.
385 lane miles of street (approximate)
123 miles of bike lanes (approximate)
21 miles of bike paths (approximate)
337 miles of sidewalk
7 miles of alleyway
Over 7,000 street signs
10 covered bike structures
Over 200 bike racks
Pavement condition of Corvallis streets
Every few years, the City completes an assessment of the condition of its paved streets. The pavement structure for each street is assigned an index number from 0 to 100, with 100 representing the best condition. Industry standards for street system target a pavement condition index of 75-80. On average, Corvallis streets have a rating of 74.
This pavement condition index is considered, along with age of the street, traffic volumes, and the presence of transit service or other heavy vehicles, to determine where the City will invest limited resources to make the best use of street maintenance dollars.
A little action now...will save a lot later
To understand why pavement maintenance is so important requires an understanding of how a street deteriorates. Vehicle traffic and weather break down the surface of a street, causing cracks to appear. The cracks allow water to get below the surface to the structure of the street. Water is very destructive to a street’s foundation, weakening it and breaking it down. As the subsurface weakens, small cracks appear on the surface, indicating the foundation is beginning to fail. The number of vehicles that travel over these weakened sites, and the weight of the vehicles, contribute to the deterioration process. When the damage reaches the critical stage, potholes appear, meaning the subsurface has fallen apart causing the surface to collapse. Even though temporary pothole patches are done, the patching material does not restore the strength of the street and, without a full reconstruction, it will eventually degrade to an unacceptable condition.
Most people don’t think a street is damaged until potholes begin to appear. But the damage to the street has started way before that point, and in fact once potholes appear, the street has reached the final stage of deterioration. Regular pavement maintenance can add life to a street by repairing the surface layer to prevent water from getting to the street structure. Because pavement maintenance costs a fraction of street reconstruction, a little now will save a lot later.
Treatments for preserving streets
Crack sealing— Injection of hot tar into cracks and paving seams to prevent water from reaching the subsurface.
Slurry seal— Very thin layer of liquid asphalt and sand used to seal street surfaces. This prevents water from reaching the subsurface and provides a new riding surface that can be worn down over time by street traffic without affecting the structure below.
Resurfacing (Grind/Inlay)— Typically, two inches of the top layer of the street is removed and replaced with a new layer of asphalt to protect and lengthen the life of the underlying pavement structure.
Reconstruction— Extensive street repair work that involves excavating the existing street and rebuilding the surface layers and road bed typically to a depth of 18 inches. This treatment is at least five to six times more costly than re-surfacing.
Street rehabilitation key to prolong service life
For any brand-new street, the expected service life is between 20-30 years. This is how long the street will hold up before full reconstruction will be needed. However, with proper application of pavement maintenance processes at the proper time in the life of the street, the service life can be extended to 50-60 years or longer before reconstruction is needed. That’s a significant return on the public’s investment. A little now...truly does save a lot later.
Our transportation system is so fundamental to modern life that we may take it for granted. But take a closer look at Corvallis’ streets and you’ll see some problems. Rough pavement, cracks and potholes are signs that Corvallis’ streets are aging and in need of care. Clearly, preserving these street assets makes good sense and saves money in the long run.
Benefits of well-maintained streets
We know what it feels like to drive on streets that are in good repair. But the truth is, some of Corvallis’ streets no longer fit into this category. And that’s a problem, because we all benefit from well maintained streets.
Safe. Safety is the biggest concern in maintaining our street system. We rely on streets and sidewalks that are safe and free of ruts, potholes, and tripping hazards.
Smooth. A smooth ride is not only comfortable but it saves wear and tear on our vehicles. The worse the condition of the roads, the higher the operating costs for drivers, according to a study by the Federal Highway Administration.
Quiet. A well-maintained street looks better and sounds better, too. Because most of us live next to a street, these are important considerations, particularly since they can affect both our livability and our property values.
Cost. Once a street deteriorates to the point that it needs major repairs, it’s typically six times costlier to fix it than it would have been to do timely maintenance such as a grind/inlay. A little now...saves a lot later.
Present day budget reality
Unfortunately, the resources available to maintain our existing street system fall far short of what is needed. Staff has estimated that in order to properly maintain our street surfaces to maximize their useful life, the City would need an additional $2.7 million annually. This does not include the cost to fully reconstruct streets that have deteriorated to the point that resurfacing is no longer an option nor does it include private streets or streets that are not improved to urban standards.
The limited resources available have forced the City to prioritize its limited maintenance budget in the following ways. Primary focus of street maintenance in recent years has been on the City’s arterial and collector street systems. Maintenance of local streets has been limited to pothole and other minor repairs. In addition, emphasis has been placed on resurfacing streets that haven’t degraded to the point that complete reconstruction is necessary. As stated earlier, resurfacing can rehabilitate a street at a fraction of the cost of reconstruction and provides the greatest benefit to the community. For those streets that have already deteriorated to the point of needing reconstruction, the goal is to delay that expensive work as long as possible, freeing up funding to maximize the amount of pavement resurfacing that can be completed each year.