Were Horses and Trails This Complicated?

I don’t know what it was like to ride a horse along the Pony Express Trail, but I’m betting it wasn’t as complicated to maintain the trail as it is our city streets.

As a young and growing community, road improvements are high on the list of priorities for Eagle Mountain City. Road improvements have also been one of the most common requests from residents in citizen surveys, and for good reason. As a bedroom community, many residents are daily commuters and spend a great deal of time on the road, making the condition of our roads at home important.

Road maintenance comes at great expense when you have forty-eight square miles to cover, but ignoring road maintenance will cost even more. All roads will eventually fail. No matter how well built, roads have a lifespan. The lifespan of our roads can be greatly extended by small investments in preventative maintenance investments. It is estimated that $1.00 spent on preventative maintenance is equivalent to approximately $6.00 to $10.00 on reconstruction.  The value of spending maintenance dollars on our roads is quite clear, but the timeline on which those dollars are spent has a big impact. If roads are allowed to deteriorate and maintenance efforts are made late, the value and the benefit of maintenance investment is drastically reduced. For this reason, we have identified a five-year interval as the goal for every road surface to receive a preventative maintenance treatment.

Roads exist within an hierarchy. Without this hierarchy, we would have chaos! Can you imagine if your driveway connected to I-15? Arterial roads carry the most traffic and are generally fed by collector roads. Arterial roads have slightly higher speed limits and less connections and interruptions than collectors. Collector roads typically funnel traffic from residential roads onto arterial roads. For this reason, arterial road conditions are under the greatest pressure to deteriorate, and thus early investment of preventative maintenance dollars will typically have their greatest value when spent here over collector or residential roads.

In 2014, we made the decision that we would get our roads to the point where they were rehabilitated and could be placed on a five-year maintenance schedule. We then invested in a comprehensive assessment of the condition of every mile of arterial, collector, and residential road. With the information in hand, our streets department identified the roads in greatest need of repair and prioritized those projects by cost and value. It was clear that investments made to our highest use roads–our arterial roads–would yield the highest value. Some collector roads were also identified to provide high value by investment of maintenance dollars.

With great attention and effort, our streets department has successfully completed all but one of the projects on our five-year arterial road maintenance plan. They have also completed several collector road rehabilitation projects. Our streets department also installed brand new trails in a neighborhood that has waited patiently for them for sixteen years. Our streets department has done all of this in only two years.

Next year, we will be turning our attention to the remaining arterial road and our collector roads. Our inventory of roads has never been in as good condition as it is today. That is due only to the work our streets department has done not only in managing the projects and timelines, but in completing this very physical work to a high standard.

Many residents have contacted me about the condition of our roads. Many have acknowledged the work of our streets department and expressed gratitude for the beautiful new streets. Some have expressed their frustration with the condition of their streets. I understand and appreciate the feedback on both ends. For those who haven’t seen improvements to their roads yet, help is on the way. If the last two years are any indication of the progress, we will be repairing streets with significant damage quickly. I know the condition of our residential roads are important too.

The end result of nicely paved, smooth roads is something that everyone enjoys. However, we understand that the process of getting to that point has an impact on residents when these projects delay your commutes, make it more difficult to access your neighborhoods, stir up dust, and create noise. We truly appreciate everyone for enduring these inconveniences, especially over the past couple weeks when we have had several projects underway at once. We work with our contractors to try to minimize these impacts as much as possible, but some factors are beyond our control.

The most recent projects on Mt. Airey Road and our Half Mile Road/Willow Springs project have experienced delays and complications which I understand have impacted residents. Road projects such as these are completed in three parts. First, the road is milled by a contractor. Next, our streets department comes in with equipment to repair and patch bad spots in the road. And last, a contractor comes in and paves over the whole surface with a fresh, flat asphalt surface. We bid these projects together and realized substantial savings as a result. With these two projects, we believed that we would have them completed in just over a week, with the major disruptions being for about a week. Unfortunately, after the contractor milled the road, our crew encountered significant sections of failed road base. In order to avoid wasting your tax dollars, our crews have been working overtime to repair the trouble spots properly by excavating the failed road base and replacing it in layers with compaction. The time we spend today will prevent the need to do the job again in a year or two. In short, unexpected circumstances have pushed our timeline for completion back. In spite of this, we believe that doing the job right the first time is more important than slapping the road together to quell frustrations.

I know that the inconvenience of roadwork in your area can be a challenge, but we know you will be pleased with the results. We truly appreciate your patience as we push to complete these improvements and get the City on a sustainable long-term maintenance plan that will save millions of tax dollars.

5 thoughts on “Were Horses and Trails This Complicated?

  1. Thank you mayor! It has been a massive improvement. Any word on when Bobbywren will be completed to connect up to pioneer phase 7? A conversation happened some years back, just wondering…

    • Georg,

      I have been looking for a way to get that stretch of road done for some time now. We do have some potential options, though I don’t have a timeframe and the funds aren’t yet budgeted. I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep. I have my eyes on it and I’ll continue looking for a way to fund that project. When that road does go in, I think you and your neighbors will be dancing in that street.

  2. I have to say, moving from Pleasant Grove where I have lived for 30+ years. The roads in Eagle Mountain are maintained SO well here. I am sure there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that I don’t know about, thank you!

    • Thanks for the feedback Ellen. I’m glad to hear we are raising the standard. We still have a lot of work to do in some areas. Cedar Pass Ranch, and some other residential areas have significant needs, though I am confident that our aggressive maintenance schedule has us on on the right track. I see no reason why we shouldn’t have the nicest roads and best maintenance program in all of Utah County. Thanks to our streets department for their tremendous work this year.

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