Cleveland Heights road repairs

It may seem doubtful in the midst of “pothole season,” but Cleveland Heights streets are improving. In 2009, the city completed repairs on just 11 of its more than 270 streets. In 2010, work was done on all or part of some 18 streets; on 31 streets in 2011; on 53 streets in 2012; with 33 more streets slated for work in 2013. By the end of 2015, the city expects to have dealt with virtually every street.

Alex Mannarino, public works director, gets credit for having instituted a systematic plan for road maintenance three years ago. Street repairs are prioritized based on road evaluations, complaints received about potholes, core samples and  available funds, which have remained stable at about $2 million over this time frame. Each road receives a score and is rated very good, good, fair, poor, or very poor.

The city aims to maintain very good and good roads. Roads in fair condition typically are treated to chip sealing. This involves replacing distressed sections of pavement, followed by applications of liquid asphalt, rock chips, and a final coat. Chip sealing has improved in recent years and can extend the life of the street by about eight to ten years.

Streets in poor or very poor condition are patched. Later, the road surface is ground off, and the road base is replaced and strengthened as needed. A final coat of at least two inches of hot-mix asphalt should keep the roadway structurally sound for at least 12 years.

Almost all road repair work is contracted out through a competitive process. The city rigorously inspects contractors’ work to ensure quality.  

Other aspects of road maintenance are repainting road markings, snow removal and salting, pothole repairs, and street sweeping to keep drains open and to remove curbside obstacles for bicyclists. Public works employees, cross-trained to perform different jobs, do much of this work. The city’s planning, public service and police departments collaborate for improvements in road markings and signage.

Though charming, Cleveland Heights’s few remaining brick roads can be cost prohibitive to maintain. Covering them with asphalt improves driving safety and makes repair affordable.

Cleveland Heights must maintain not only residential streets but also its major thoroughfares. Since 2010, Cleveland Heights has resurfaced Monticello Boulevard from Mayfield to Noble roads, and Taylor Road from Euclid Heights Boulevard to East Cleveland. Work is expected on Mayfield Road in 2013, on much of Cedar Road in 2016, on Noble Road in 2018 and Lee Road in 2020.

How are road repairs paid for? The tax on gasoline sales and vehicle registrations are important to funding road repairs. Some gas-tax funds are used to improve the national highway system and mass transit, but some return locally. Agencies such as the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) play a role in allocating funds for road- esurfacing. Ohio apportions its share of gas-tax road-repair funds to municipalities, counties and townships based on vehicle registrations and Ohio law. Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) from the Department of Housing and Urban Development may be used in low-income areas. Major regional thoroughfares may qualify for federal funding for maintenance, with a local match. The city has to apply to a variety of agencies to pay for repairs to major thoroughfares, and in some cases has to take out a loan, then await reimbursement.

Road renovation projects will start soon and typically end in November. You can report potholes by calling 216-691-7300.

Maintaining streets is a complex and major civic responsibility. The job never ends, but Cleveland Heights employees have us moving in the right direction.

Mary Dunbar

Mary Dunbar, member of Cleveland Heights City Council and president of the Heights Bicycle Coalition, prefers to ride her bicycle around our streets, weather permitting.

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Volume 6, Issue 4, Posted 12:23 PM, 03.28.2013