More cyclists traveled through the intersection of Third Street and Campbell Avenue than anywhere else in the region during the 2010 bike count. But despite its popularity, the route has a major flaw.
“It’s pretty bumpy,” cyclist Juliana Davies said while cruising toward campus on Third Street. “It is weathered and it needs to be smoothed.”
Davies said paving the street would increase safety.
“It would be nice because I could pay more attention to traffic than the potholes,” she said.
Jim Glock, the city’s transportation director, said he knows the pavement on Third Street is in pretty bad shape, but said the money to fix it just isn’t there.
“It’s tough,” Glock said. “It is not a good time for us with respect to pavement surfaces. Bike lanes, travel lanes, what have you, I’ve got a challenge across the city.”
The city’s bike and pedestrian program manager, Tom Thivener, said they are limited in what money they can use for fixing residential streets.
He said federal funding sources require the money to be spent on streets that move more traffic than residential streets and the RTA won’t pay for pavement fixes.
Thivener said he applied for a grant from Communities Putting Prevention to Work, but the city wasn’t awarded any money for the street.
He said he’d like to see a fix within the city that made streets like bike boulevards more of a priority.
“Right now we don’t have a mechanism to maintain the pavement on local streets,” Thivener said. “We really need to develop a new policy that does put money toward the local streets or at least puts them toward the prioritized local streets such as bike boulevards so that we can get pavement fixes and make it smoother out there.”
Thivener said places like Vancouver, British Columbia and Portland prioritize their bike routes.
“I know from my visit to Vancouver and Portland this past summer, they treat their bike boulevard-type streets more like collectors in their policy documents so that they get maintenance done on them more often,” he said.
Glock said there are two problems with the pavement. In the section between Campbell Avenue and Tucson Boulevard, the pavement has been washed away leaving bigger pebbles that make for a rough ride. The section between Tucson boulevard and Country Club Road is experiencing what Glock calls alligator cracking, which happens when water gets below the pavement and washes away the base layer that the asphalt sits on.
Glock said the fixes for each section differ, but the price ranges from $6.49 – $9.88 a square yard. The worst section of the street is one mile long and 30 feet wide, which means there are 17,600 square yards that would need to be repaired. The price would range from $114,000 to $174,000 to fix the street from Campbell Avenue to Country Club Road.
Glock said his maintenance budget has gone from $35 million to $25 million, so neighborhood street maintenance isn’t an option.
“Right now we are really not focusing too much on what technique would be better than another because we don’t have money to try any of them at this point,” Glock said.
Cyclists have discussed starting a fund to help pay for repaving the street. That is something Glock said could help. He said the city council had told him he can accept donations for specific projects, but in the interim he suggests picking which bike you ride wisely.
“I guess all I can offer is for folks to pick the appropriate bicycle for the pavement conditions they will be facing,” Glock said. “If you are planning a ride on our newly paved streets or on streets that are in good shape then get your graphite 130 pound psi tires out there and enjoy yourself. If you are on these rougher streets it might be time to get the mountain bike out with your suspension.”