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CITY OF LAS CRUCES PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT

Street maintenance: millions of dollars, hundreds of miles

Posted

There are 488 centerline miles of streets in the City of Las Cruces, with an annual budget of $4.2 million for paving, maintenance and rehabilitation, city Public Works Department (PWD) Director David Sedillo said.

The city uses pavement management software and a pavement condition index (PCI) to access the quality of each street and determine where work is needed most, Sedillo said. As a whole, city streets have a PCI of 66 out of a possible 100, he said. The goal is at least 80.

Sedillo said it would cost about $105 million to bring all city streets up to the 80 mark, or about $7 million a year for 10 years.

“I would love to see that increase happen,” he said, recognizing that the city has “many other priorities and needs, as well.”

PWD has 118 employees working in five programs: administration, construction management, engineering/architecture, street management and traffic management. PWD also heads up the city’s general-obligation bond projects, more than $35 million in construction approved by city voters in the August 2018 all-mail election.

Street management staff includes two licensed professional engineers and three engineering technicians, who review available data on street conditions and run computer models to determine “the best way to attack our maintenance of streets with the available funding,” Sedillo said.

Road construction crews, including project managers and inspectors, are responsible for preventive maintenance of streets, grading roads and alleys, patching potholes, making utility-patch repairs and doing chip seal and small paving jobs, he said. They also handle special projects like de-icing bridges, Sedillo said. City crews even assisted the New Mexico Department of Transportation in de-icing U.S. Highway 70 overpasses, outside city limits.

Most city paving projects are contracted out to private companies, with the city using local vendors for “a lot of our contracted work,” he said.

“We want to ensure we get the best possible results in our pavement maintenance for our residents and community,” Sedillo said.

 Street management also includes six street sweepers and a five-man concrete crew that does ADA-ramp installation and the construction and repair of sidewalks and concrete structures that are part of the roadway system, Sedillo said.

If one crew is down because of weather conditions or some other issue, its members work with a different crew, he said.

“There’s a lot of hats that they wear through the year. They do an excellent job,” Sedillo said.

“You can imagine the level of responsibility they have throughout the city based on the center-line model,” Sedillo said. Centerline miles measure a street’s length regardless of how many lanes it has.

Street projects often involve more than paving or resurfacing, Sedillo said, and his road crews work closely with the Utilities Department and other city departments to add or replace utility lines, storm drains, lighting and signaling.

“There’s quite a bit that goes into installing those infrastructure needs into a project,” he said.

It sometimes means dealing with utility lines dating as far back as the 1940s.

“We do our best to do the research we have based on the records we have for what’s underground,” Sedillo said. “You do find some things that are unexpected. We work as quickly as we can.”

Sedillo said crews do their best to minimize inconvenience to nearby residents and businesses.

Upcoming city road maintenance projects include work on portions of McFie Street, Midway Avenue, Walnut Street, Campo Street, Camino Coyote and Sonoma Springs Road (leading into the East Mesa Public Recreation complex), Solar Ridge, Bellamah Drive and the extension of Madrid Road.

Pavement maintenance and replacement projects also continue, Sedillo said, along with crack seal work.

Sedillo is a professional engineer who was recently promoted to PWD director. He has been with the city 15.5 years. He was born in Las Cruces and grew up in the village of Doña Ana.

“I consider it an honor to serve the community,” Sedillo said. “I feel I have a great responsibility and I don’t take that lightly.”