Yesterday’s Oregonian reports that the City Auditor has told PDOT it’s not spending its road maintence dollars as effectively as possible. It’s the old adage: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Apparently PDOT is spending so much resource rebuilding the really bad roads that it underspends keeping the new ones from deteriorating.
The economics of this were extensively discussed by the PDOT Budget Advisory Committee. In some ways the challenge is understandable: the public gripes about a failed street. It’s visually obvious (more so when you drive over it). On the flip side, the optimal maintenance schedule for a good street calls for resealing it before it has visually degraded – so the public wants to know why you’re “wasting” money on perfectly good streets.
On the other hand, I have to wonder a little bit about the culture of the Bureau of Maintenance. These are dig and pave kinds of folks, the same folks whose responses skewed the PDOT stakeholder survey with some very negative numbers for things like bike lanes.