Funding snarl

Funding snarl

July 3rd, 2010 by Cliff Hightower in Politics Local

The city's crunched budget could mean another year of waiting for repair to some deteriorating roads across Chattanooga, officials said Friday.

"The reduced budget will mean we'll have less work to complete," said Eddie Tate, the city's pavement supervisor.

Staff Photo by Tracey Trumbull/Chattanooga Times Free Press - William Murphy (left) and Robert Butts (center) and William Dunstan (right), all employees for the City of Chattanooga Public Works department, works on the edge of an asphalt patch along the side of Grubb Road Friday 070210. A tree, which had recently uprooted, damaged the roadway and required patching.

Staff Photo by Tracey Trumbull/Chattanooga Times Free Press...

The 2010-11 fiscal year budget approved by the City Council on Tuesday cut road maintenance from $2 million to $1 million. The council made the decision as it whittled a $198.6 million budget down to $185 million.

The possible cut, which could be finalized in a second and final council reading Tuesday, comes as the city is stepping into a new pavement program that rates roads on a worst-to-best scale.

Over the past few years, the city has hired several consultants to analyze the roads using scientific methods, Mr. Tate said. With that information, city officials can go to the council next year and tell them exactly what roads need repairs the most and which can wait.

But until that day comes, some money needs to be in the pipeline to address current needs, he said.

"The roadways continue to deteriorate," he said. "We do need funds."

Councilwoman Pam Ladd, chairwoman of the Public Works Committee, said Friday there could be possible relief coming Tuesday when the council talks about the city's capital budget. She said the budget includes some capital expenses geared toward maintenance.

"We've got some money in the capital budget that should offset" the $1 million cut to the maintenance program, she said.

3-STEP PROCESS

Chattanooga has a new pavement program that uses three methods to measure the quality of city roads. The methods are:

* Ground penetrating radar: Finds thickness and material of road

* Falling weight deflectometer: Finds strength of the road

* Visual condition: Looks at current surface condition of road

Source: Chattanooga government

She said she doesn't like cutting the maintenance portion of the budget, but it was needed to pare down expenses.

"That's some of the pain we're going to have to live with," she said.

Councilwoman Deborah Scott, who has long supported putting $2 million in road funds, said Friday the council should and needs to address the problem because roads are crumbling all over.

"It's not a district problem," she said. "It's a citywide problem."

Mrs. Scott has proposed cuts to several departments across the board, but she remains strong on her position to fix roads.

"If you're not doing a certain percentage of roads per year, you're going to end up with a heckuva mess," she said.

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

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