As warmer weather approaches, city crews are ready to start paving some of the most problematic streets in Pittsburgh.
Mayor Bill Peduto said following one of the worst winters in the last 20 years, roads have been left battered. But standing alongside the pothole-ridden Brookline Boulevard, he said road conditions can also be blamed on years of city budgets under-funding infrastructure.
“You can have a bad winter, but when you have proper investment into streets and pavement and steps, one bad winter isn’t going to turn into this,” Peduto said. “This happens because of years of neglect, and it will take several years in order to get it back to where we need to get it.”
Since January there have been pothole blitzes, which temporarily addressed problem areas. Now that hot asphalt is available, that work can continue and some roads can be completely re-paved. But Peduto said out of the more than 500 miles of roads that need paving, only a fraction will actually get an overhaul.
“Unfortunately, with the budget that we have this year, we’re only going to be able to pave 27 miles of streets,” Peduto said.
He said a long-term plan is needed within Act 47 to address areas including capital investments, but that will take time, “which means that streets that need to be paved, we’re not going to be able to do so until we have these other critical parts in place,” he said.
As far as pothole repairs go, the city will continue to field 311 complaints. But with hot asphalt available now, Peduto said more thorough and lasting repairs can be made.
The 311 response line has been busy. According to Peduto in the first quarter alone, it fielded 3,200 more complaints than the same time last year and had a 93 percent completion rate. Plus, the mayor said that in February crews cut response time for complaints in half. Still, he’s calling on them to go further.
“We’ll work to have all pothole complaints filled within three business days,” said Peduto. “In the past years that has been as high as three weeks. We’re going to work so that any complaint that comes in is filled within three business days.”
For future planning, Peduto said the city needs a real road maintenance program.
“A professional management system for street maintenance that we don’t have right now,” he said, “and with the help of Carnegie Mellon and others, we’re going to be investing in that. We’re going to be using GPS technology to determine which streets need repaired.”
That technology, said Peduto, will include vehicle mounted cameras that can not only take a picture of driving surfaces, but analyze what’s going on beneath it. In addition, Peduto said the city hopes to use GPS technology to track where and how street sweepers, snow trucks and other city vehicles are working.