Alachua County's engineer gave an update on road repair plans to the city of Alachua’s Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon on Tuesday.
Ramon Gavarrete said though the transportation budget has grown, the overall road quality will continue to degrade.
The original transportation program budget was about $3.5 million per year, Gavarrete said. After the county passed a one-cent surtax, that budget has risen to include $242 million over the next 10 years.
“It’s great. Unfortunately, it’s still not enough,” Gavarrete said.
Gavarrete said when he first came to the Board of County Commissioners in 2021, he told them he needed $45 million a year to turn the road degradation around. Alachua County’s Pavement Condition Index (PCI) was already at 60 out of 100, which Gavarrete said he considers a failing grade.
Unfortunately, the worse roads get over time, the more expensive their repairs become. Gavarrete gave the Alachua Chamber the example of NW 23rd Ave., a 1.6-mile stretch that will cost $8-9 million to repair.
“We will see improvements on our roadways,” Gavarrete said. “Those roads that are mostly gravel are gonna get improved. But there are still gonna be a little over half of our roadways, two-thirds of our roadways, are not getting touched.”
Gavarrete said because Alachua County receives federal funding for its transportation system, it is required to address equity in its payment management. The county staff used census data to search for low-income neighborhoods and gave them 40% more weight over other roads in the county.
The board also chose to take people’s complaints into account. Gavarrete said the county searched its system for roads with 15 or more work orders, and moved those up the priority list.
Gavarrete said there will be a little more spending on residential roads than the county had originally planned. The county staff has attempted to group subdivision roadways so those areas do not see improvement on all their roads but one or two – this has added a few extra stretches of road to the plan.
“I’m sure somebody’s going to ask me today... ‘are you doing all the sections?’ No, we’re not,” Gavarrete said. “I think we’re catching the worst sections, but there’s gonna be sections that all of us are gonna be disappointed when we do not touch it in the next 10 years.”
Over the next 10 years, the county has planned 69 projects, including both major and minor improvements, according to Gavarrete. He said this will maintain collector roads at about a 53.4 PCI, and residential roads at about 43.8 PCI.