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Oak Bay roads need $1.3 M in TLC

Even though more than 60 per cent of Oak Bay’s roads were rated “good” or “very good” in a pavement management study reviewed Monday night, the municipality is facing a huge disparity between what it expected to pay for road maintenance and the actual projected cost.

In a committee of the whole presentation led by EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd.’s David Firbank, council learned the $300,000 budgeted annually for road maintenance needs to increase to $1.3 million just to keep the road network at its current condition, let alone address a backlog of necessary roadwork, which Firbank likened to debt.

“Like borrowed money, these roads accrue interest in the form of maintenance, required to make them passable and safe,” said Firbank. “These maintenance treatments do not maintain the pavement condition or serviceability, and therefore the money is lost to the asset, much like interest is lost to the borrower.”

The cost of addressing the roads in the backlog, according to EBA, is set to rise by $33 million in 20 years under the current budget.

“The current funding is insufficient to maintain the network in its current condition and without a significant increase in funding, the roads with deteriorate significantly,” Firbank said.

EBA rated 21 per cent of Oak Bay’s roads as being in “critical” condition.

The initial report from EBA included all roads in the municipality, including lower volume routes, some of which, as Mayor Nils Jensen noted, might not be suitable for replacement. The deteriorating state of Prospect Place, Mayor Jensen said, has been recognized by residents as an effective traffic calming device.

Council requested EBA re-run the analysis, removing certain roads from the costing equation, including those belonging to the University of Victoria, and asked staff to investigate alternative funding. EBA is expected to return to council in the new year, prior to the budget deadline, with a variety of scenarios addressing higher and lower volume route upgrade options.

“There’s a general recognition that our roads are getting worse,” noted coun. Kevin Murdoch.

“There’s going to be that optimal time to replace, where it’s less costly to replace than to keep patching them,” Firbank said.

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