By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

City officials say it could cost over a million dollars to repair city streets damaged by snow removal this winter. In addition, the total bill for snow removal could also be well over a million.

“We patched 100 potholes on [the Belmont] Bridge this winter,” said Public Works Director

Judy Mueller

in an appearance before

City Council

Monday night. Her department recently spent an additional $16,000 to resurface that bridge, though those repairs are now coming undone.

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Over 55 inches have fallen on the community this winter, posing challenges for local government

The City usually budgets a million dollars a year for street repair, but Mueller said an additional million will be needed to take care of the damage caused by snow removal as well as the freeze-thaw cycle caused by lower-than-average temperatures.

“Water gets in under the asphalt and then when it freezes, it turns to ice, expands, and that’s what pops the asphalt out,” Mueller said. Other damage includes a condition known as “alligatoring” where road surfaces crack because of the weight of heavy plows.

Crews will soon begin their annual inspection of streets, and Mueller said she can’t give an accurate estimate of how much repairs will costs until that inventory is complete. Arterial streets will get the priority, though neighborhood associations will be consulted as well for their input.

“We’ll do the very best we can with the dollars you give us,” Mueller said to Council.

Former City Council candidate

Peter Kleeman

said not all of the money should go to pay for roads.

“As a pedestrian, I’d like to point out there’s a fair [amount] of damage to the pedestrian ways as a result of plowing,” Kleeman said. He called on Council to make sure the “pedestrian community” is not forgotten as repairs are prioritized.

The City budget for the current year set aside $138,825 for snow removal, but actual expenditures have far surpassed that amount.  Assistant City Manager

Maurice Jones

said removing several feet of snow over multiple storms has cost the city “a little over a million dollars,” with the largest cost going to additional personnel.

“Fortunately, our employees have been up to the task,” Jones said. “Public Works and Parks and Recreations have taken the brunt of the storm clean-up but police, fire and social services have also been involved.”

Finance Director Bernard Wray said the city has asked the federal government for $130,000 in reimbursements for the nearly two feet that fell on Charlottesville on the weekend of December 20, 2009.  However, that storm actually cost the city more than $300,000.

“The way the snow policy works with [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] is that you can only submit your highest cost for a consecutive 48-hour period,” Wray said. “As you know, the first storm lasted much more than 48 hours as far as working it.”

Wray has submitted claims to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management for the balance for that first storm. In the meantime, money will have to come from reserves. Finance staff will return to Council at a later date to determine how the storm’s clean-up will be paid.

Council gave no direction at this meeting. City Manager Gary O’Connell said the report was meant as an addendum to the discussion on the

city budget


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