Over the past several years, the City of Cotati embarked on several road improvements. This includes resurfacing approximately 25 percent of the residential streets in Cotati, repaving downtown Cotati and building new sidewalks around La Plaza and East School Street. In addition, they have constructed new sidewalks, bike lanes and streetlights and added trees and pedestrian plazas on Old Redwood Highway between La Plaza Park and Highway 116. There are several more projects scheduled to take place starting this summer and into 2019.
“We have been fortunate to have the support of our community, which approved Cotati’s Measure G in 2014,” says Damien O’Bid, Cotati’s City Manager. “In addition to public safety and recreation programs, each year the city council has prioritized fixing roads with Measure G. It will take time to bring the pavement condition up to the standard that our residents expect, but we have already stabilized the overall pavement condition and are starting to see the improvements in our pavement rating.”
In the proposed budget for 2018-2019, the city council allocated $2.3 million in paving, including a $675,000 federal grant, plus another $25,000 in various safety improvements. To put this into perspective, this represents about 30 percent of the general fund revenue for the year - an enormous commitment to the priority of fixing Cotati’s roads.
Most of the money is going to two large projects, a $1.6 million project and a $675,000 project, both consisting of repaving work in two different areas of Cotati. The $1.6 million project consists of repaving most of the roads in the L section part of town, including La Salle Avenue. The $675,000 project includes fixing East Cotati Avenue, from the SMART railroad track to the city limit at Sunflower Park.
“Every two years we do an update to our pavement management plan,” says O’Bid. “It’s a plan where someone goes out and visually inspects all of the roads in the city and then ranks them on condition. They then come up with a five year list of recommended projects based on the type of road repair and treatment methods used, with the most cost effective ones listed first.”
An objective third party contractor completes the inspections. Since some of the rankings are done through a computer model, the engineers also use judgment to determine which ones would be more efficient to group together, which is why they will be focusing on all of L section this year, for example.
“The projects include roadway repair and paving,” says O’Bid. “Roadway repair consists of digging out the failed sections of roadway and repairing them and then laying a new layer of asphalt over the entire roadway. So you’re repairing the structure underneath so it doesn’t fail again and then you repave the entire roadway. Repaving is an inch-and-a-half or two of asphalt and if you just threw that over a failed section of roadway it would start failing in the same place again.”
The $675,000 project on East Cotati Avenue is being paid for entirely through a federal roadway grant the city received. Most of the $1.6 million L section project is being funded through Measure G and some general fund money and about $200,000 of it is coming from a combination of SB-1 money (gas tax) and Measure M money which is the county-wide transportation tax.
“Gas tax revenue is a sliver of the cost of what it takes to maintain these roads,” says O’Bid. “It’s largely funded locally. If you don’t have local funding, meaning city or county-wide funding, you’d never be able to keep up with the costs. Roads are hugely expensive to maintain and they only get more expensive the longer you wait to maintain them. For us the $1.6 million in the L section won’t even do that whole area and for a jurisdiction our size that is a lot of road funding, not to mention the other $675,000 that is also being spent through the grant.”
The next step will be to finish designing the projects and then sending out requests for proposals. The project will most likely be completed by the end of this summer and the East Cotati section will probably be scheduled for spring, 2019.
Other road safety related work that makes up the remaining $25,000 in the allotted budget and that has already been completed or will be in the coming year include adding three radar feedback signs to make drivers aware of their speed coming into town, new crosswalk signs and flashing red lights at certain stop signs.
“The city council is continuing to aggressively prioritize road work as we move forward,” says O’Bid.