City targets road maintenance cutbacks

Financial pressures could transform Vernon’s transportation network.

Financial pressures could transform Vernon’s transportation network.

City council has endorsed an integrated transportation network that could see road widths reduced, some aging sidewalks abandoned, maintenance prolonged on some roads and gutters replaced by ditches.

“It will not be business as usual,” said Mark Dowhaniuk, infrastructure engineer.

“We will provide a functional transportation network and remain financially sustainable by adjusting levels of service.”

The goal is to keep costs in line while ensuring roads and sidewalks continue to meet public needs.

“It’s a huge issue,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky of the infrastructure deficit.

“Vernon has been in the lead looking at what the problems are and what the solutions may be.”

The proposal endorsed by council calls for rebuild/maintenance costs of $6.3 to $6.9 million a year over 10 years.

A number of savings are anticipated if some roads are declassified for maintenance, lane widths are reduced, fewer sidewalks are replaced and the paved surface for rural residential roads is reduced.

Some local roads may not see asphalt renewal for 60 years.

“It’s not much different than what we’re seeing now,” said Dowhaniuk.

Alternate technology, such as grinding and reusing asphalt, could be initiated for major paving projects.

Instead of current storm water controls, there could be a move to ditches in some rural neighbourhoods.

“I think we’ll get push back on no curb and gutter,” said Coun. Brian Quiring.

If the plan were to proceed, developers or neighbourhoods could pay for higher standards such as sidewalks or curb and gutter.

“In Calgary, if anyone wants street lights or a park, they pay for it,” said Rob Dickinson, engineering manager.

While council has endorsed a certain direction, city staff will continue to work on the integrated transportation framework. The final document will be presented to council in the future for consideration.