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Public works to council: roads in dire need

By Staff | May 14, 2012

The public works department issued a stern warning to the Cape Coral City Council on Monday at their workshop meeting at city hall: It’s time to fix the roads.

After several years of putting things off through budget cuts in a tough economy, the city has reached the day of reckoning in regards to improving its nearly 1,300 miles of roads, according to Steve Neff, public works director.

Neff said it will take about $6.5 million per year to repave local and major roads in town. Many of those roads haven’t been repaved in more than 20 years, and Neff warned that the longer the city waits, the more expensive the fixes will be.

“The city needs $4.5 million for local roads and $2 million for major roads,” according to numbers presented by Kierstan Lynch, the public works project director, who showed pictures of some of the more battered roads, such as Wildwood Parkway, which hasn’t been repaved since 1992 and had an expected lifespan of 10-12 years.

Lynch warned that if the roads further deteriorate, it could cost the city five times more to fix them, well beyond the point of simple resurfacing.

Lynch said Cape’s roads are a $1 billion asset. And what was the city budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year for road repaving? Zero, Lynch said.

The Transportation Advisory Commission approved five major roads to be repaved in April. They are:

Jacaranda Parkway from Andalusia to Santa Barbara boulevards; Academy Boulevard from Southest 26th to Southeast 32nd streets; Cornwallis Parkway from Del Prado to Southeast 22nd Street; Kismet Parkway from Santa Barbara to Nelson Road; and Palm Tree Boulevard from Southeast 37th to 40th streets.

The price tag will be about $585,000. But where the city will get the cash for future fixes is anyone’s guess.

“Were it not for utility expansion, these roads would look like those in the north Cape that have never been paved,” Neff said. “Can you wait a year or two? Yes. But the longer you wait, the more you’ll have to pay.”

Public works has set priorities for the repaving program, with major roads being the top priority, residential streets with utilities and high density next.

Lightly used roads without utilities will be last, since they would only be torn up when utilities get installed anyway.

Council had little to say after the presentation. Councilmember Rana Erbrick acknowledged the urgency of the situation in light of the cutting of corners over the last four years.

“It’s easy to put off important stuff. You do that for long, it comes back to hit you,” said Erbrick, who was elected in November.