Richmond, Virginia, is known for a myriad of colloquial characteristics: the James River running adjacent to downtown, its four-century history, chicken bones on sidewalks, hipsters guzzling Pabst Blue Ribbon (ironically, of course), its burgeoning street art scene, and others. However, one thing the “River City” has also been known for is its terrible roads.
While many of the stories and arguments about the roadway infrastructure are had in bars and gastropubs between Richmonders, there is now a study from the city’s Department of Public Works (DPW) that backs up the complaining, popped tires, and busted suspension components. On Monday, DPW presented its study on the conditions of streets and roadways to the Richmond City Council.
The department revealed what most had already known, but not enough to put a number on it. The 2018 condition rating for Richmond roads that are in “good” condition for better sits at just 35 percent. Meanwhile, 65 percent are in “fair to poor” condition.
DPW states that the city’s Pavement Condition Index (PCI) is down far from what it was in 2014 when 53 percent of Richmond roads were “good” condition, while 47 percent were considered “fair to poor.”
In August and September of 2018, DPW administered a citizen survey related to the maintenance of the city. Unfortunately, yet not shockingly, “73 percent of Richmonders were dissatisfied with the maintenance of our neighborhood streets and sidewalks.”
As some have claimed, most of the decimated streets may be located in the poorer areas of Richmond. However, the study’s PCI map shows that streets in poor condition are located all over the city. In each of Richmond’s nine city council districts, between 6.7 million and 13.7 million in roadway repairs are needed.
To re-pave all streets listed in poor condition, the department says it will cost the city $104 million. To improve the streets ranking to good condition, the price tag would come close to $300 million.
DPW says there is “no need for an ordinance…the City of Richmond is aware of the deficiencies of its’ (sic) infrastructure.”
Well, isn’t that magnificent.
Furthermore, they exclaim, “Funding is required to PAVE. Funding is required to REMEDIATE THE PROBLEMS within our public right of way. Funding is required to IMPROVE THE SAFETY of our roadway network.”
“Safe and passable streets are not a luxury, they are a core necessity,” the department adds.
Yes, but so are schools. Considering the debacle emanating from the second floor of City Hall regarding that issue, it is highly unlikely that this study will be taken seriously, nor will the roads be fixed any time soon.
Richmond could just hike taxes more, right? Who isn’t opposed to that?
For now, DPW will presumably continue to place cones, barrels, and even sand bags in potholes just to let everyone know what a bang-up job Richmond is doing.
With the other Richmond ridiculousness – the Redskins training camp, Coliseum project, Pulse bus line, electric scooter wars, misguided bike lanes, and too many more to count – DPW’s study will likely sit on someone’s desk at 900 East Broad Street for the time being. Mayor Levar Stoney is too worried about his own ambitions.