Bond Measures to Fix Streets
Eugene voters continue to support preserving Eugene’s streets. In November of 2017, voters approved the third street repair bond measure. Bond proceeds will be used to repair city streets through at least 2023. This funding is key to Eugene’s pavement preservation program and reducing the amount of needed street repairs throughout the city. A portion of the bond proceeds is also used to improve safety for people who bike and walk through the construction of new sidewalk access ramps, on-street bike lanes, medians and other traffic calming devices.
Transparency is also built into the bond measures. An independent auditor and citizen review panel evaluate bond-funded projects to assure the money is being spent as the proposal’s intended. Each group produces an annual report for the City Manager, who then presents the information to the Eugene City Council.
Current Condition of City Roads
The City’s transportation system includes more than 500 miles of streets, with a replacement value of more than $500 million. Even with proper maintenance, streets deteriorate and eventually need serious repairs. Signs of wear and distress include rutting, cracking and potholes. However, if addressed early enough, only the surface of a deteriorated street needs to be replaced, instead of the entire street. Resurfacing a street is significantly more cost effective than a full rebuild, which includes a new road base.
Public Works staff prepare the Pavement Management Report on an annual basis. It provides a look at the current condition of city roads. By the end of 2019, Public Works estimated there were $76.3 million in needed street repairs throughout the city, a significant decrease since 2008, when voters first approved a street repair bond.
Road Repair Funding
In 2000, the capital budget didn’t include funding for preservation of the street system. At the time it was estimated there was about $53 million in needed street repairs. By 2008, that number had increased to $171 million and was projected to grow to more than $280 million in 10 years.
A majority of funding for current street repair projects comes from two sources: street repair bonds and a local gas tax (implemented in 2003). Combined, they account for nearly $12 million a year for street repairs, with the bond money accounting for about $8 million of that total.
According to the Pavement Management Report, about $15.3 million is needed per year over the next decade to get all streets back into good condition and keep any additional streets from needing to be reconstructed. Once this is achieved, it’s estimated the annual street repair budget would be $11 million.
Citizens Invest in City Streets
In 2008, Eugene voters approved a five-year, $35.9 million bond measure to fix city streets. Voters again showed their support for street repairs with the approval of a new, $43 million bond in 2012 and a $51.2 million bond measure in 2017.
When voters approved the bond measures, they also approved a specific list of streets to be improved. In 2008, the measure promised to fix 32 streets. Because of economic factors and cautious spending, crews were able to fix an additional 10 streets with the 2008 bond money.
The 2012 bond included a list of 76 streets to be fixed and provided an average of $516,000 per year for bicycle and pedestrian projects. City staff are on target to meet the objectives of the 2012 bond. Because of continued favorable bids and resourceful spending, staff will be able to fund an additional five streets in 2019 using remaining money from the 2012 bond.
The 2017 bond measure, which started in 2019, promises construction on 91 projects through 2023. Working with the Active Transportation Committee and under the guidance of the Transportation System Plan, the city will also identify and complete an average of $1 million in safety improvements for people who bike and walk.
Road Bond Transparency
The bond measures established several levels of accountability. The bonds require an outside auditor and citizen-led committee to evaluate the City’s work on an annual basis. The citizen-led committee, the Street Repair Review Panel (SRRP), is comprised of a number of different stakeholders from throughout the community. Each member brings a different background and area of expertise to the panel.
The auditor and SRRP work independently. Each year they file a report after researching the previous summer’s construction work. The reports are then reviewed by the City Manager and presented to the Eugene City Council. All of the reports can be found on the City website.