Rough road ahead for Ladysmith

Not only bumps, but cracks, crumbling shoulders, potholes and significant expenses to get its pavement back in shape

Looking down the road the Town of Ladysmith is seeing not only bumps, but cracks, crumbling shoulders, potholes and significant expenses to get its pavement back in shape, then keep it that way.

That was the news Director of Infrastructure Services John Manson delivered to council Dec. 7 in a Pavement Management Plan, developed by his department, working with consultants Tetra Tech EBA, who specialize in evaluating the condition of roads.

Manson said it could cost $750,000 per year over a 10 year period to repair or replace deteriorating roads and maintain roads that are still in good shape.

Less could be spent, he said, but that would be compounding a problem that has been getting worse since 1998 when Ladysmith’s first Pavement Management Plan was developed.

Then just 2 per cent of the town’s roads were categorized in ‘poor,’ ‘very poor’ or ‘serious’ condition. That ratio had crept up to 13 per cent in the April, 2015 assessment.

“We’re not putting enough money in since 1998 at least to keep the roads in good shape,” Manson said.

Spending less would mean increasing amounts of money dedicated to ‘maintenance’ of roads, with less available for ‘rehabilitation,’ the report says.

After 10 years, if the town budgets $250,000 per year for road work, almost half the annual average budget would be spent on maintenance, 48 per cent, with 52 per cent available for repairs; at $500,000 per year, 20 per cent would be spent on maintenance; at $750,000 per year, 11 per cent; and at $800,000 per year, 9 per cent.

Repair includes things like milling and resurfacing roads, or even replacing them; maintenance, patch ups like sealing cracks and filling potholes. At $750,000 the average condition of the road network would be “maintained” over the next 10 years, the report says.

But when roads are repaired or repaved it often makes sense to replace utilities that run under them: so the town could end up replacing 19.3 km of sanitary sewers (28 per cent of the total); 22 km of water mains (26 per cent of the total) and an undetermined amount of storm drainage lines.

A five year Infrastructure Improvement Plan projects a total budget of $4.4 million for paving, water, sanitary and storm sewer replacements (road maintenance costs are not included in the figures).

“That stuff needs to be replaced when we’re doing the roads,” Manson said.

Council received the plan. Coun. Steve Arnett said the Pavement Management Plan contains valuable information. “It’s so important for us to make informed decisions,” he said. “The numbers don’t lie.”