The Santa Clarita robust "Road Rehab" program completes over 100 overlay and slurry projects annually. Trying to be communicative with residents, businesses and schools regarding rehab schedules improved dramatically with an easy-to-use online website. In addition, new best practices resulted in an increase in productivity for a smoother ride.
Santa Clarita spans 64 square miles which translates to an abundance of streets and roads — and maintenance. In fact, the City’s Road Rehab overlay and slurry seal program is responsible for over 516 miles of major and minor streets.
The residents of Santa Clarita depend heavily on these roads to live their daily lives. Poorly maintained roads constrain mobility, increase chances of accidents and significantly raise vehicle operating costs. When kept pristine, roads make a contribution to the growth of a community and provide many social benefits.
According to the 2014 City of Santa Clarita Survey results, nearly 80% of Santa Clarita residents believe the City is “right on track,” partially because the “City stays within budget” and “improves roads.” In fact, 16% of the reason why residents are satisfied with City services is because of the improved roads.
Although content with the positive survey results, the City’s Public Works Department remained vigorous in finding a way to be more cost-effective, in order to provide greater public benefits with a limited project budget. For years, the City has been using a Road Rehab program based on the Metropolitan Transportation Committee’s StreetSaver® multi-year pavement management program. This management program helps City staff identify and quantify pavement conditions to make informed and timely decisions about necessary maintenance that prevent problems and preserve pavement economically for the City’s many streets and roads.
Every summer, dozens of road resurfacing projects start in Santa Clarita neighborhoods, using a planned street hierarchy; a technique used to organize streets into evaluation zones. This approach allows the City to save resources and time by planning construction within geographic zones with similar pavement conditions, rather than scattering resources across the City.
Furthermore, with over 213,000 residents living in Santa Clarita, City staff faced challenges with communicating to a diverse, growing, and spread out audience about the nearly 100 miles of roadway to be repaved annually.
Until recently, the only notification impacted residents received before the road rehab began on their streets was two door hangers and “No Parking” signs posted 24 hours before construction started. The downside of using printed materials was the difficulty in communicating last-minute changes to the schedule, which happened often. As a result, residents would report complaints, confusion and in some cases, not be aware of the project process, and would destroy newly-done projects by driving over the surface of unfinished pavement.
In late 2014, staff began researching alternative approaches to their Road Rehab procedures with the goal of increasing the amount of roads resurfaced annually, with the same or less cost in previous years. It was also very clear that although the basics of the project and schedule were being communicated, the City could do it better, alleviating confusion and accommodating last minute construction schedule changes.
In response to these challenges—extension of pavement life, budget dollars, and community information — the City’s Public Works Department sought to find a way to stay cost-effective in its methods and clearly communicate important, timely project information to its residents.
The City accomplished this in two ways: new preventative maintenance approaches to the overlay and slurry seal program and an innovative public outreach tool.
New Preventative Maintenance Treatments/Approaches
In the interest of being more cost-effective and delivering high quality service, City staff opted to adopt two new preventative maintenance approaches to the 2015-2016 “Road Rehab” program that would extend pavement life—doubling the road miles maintained at about the same cost as previous years.
The first preventative maintenance method includes adding a slurry seal with fiber, a technique that adds fiberglass to a thin mixture of asphalt emulsion and aggregate to seal cracks and deliver a smooth finish that protects against damage from weather. A typical slurry seal lasts from three to five years. Although adding fiber to the mix increases the cost by about a third when compared to a non-fibrous slurry seal, the City anticipates this technique will add additional years to the pavement life when compared to typical slurry seal. This technology is able to be used on pavements more susceptible to cracking than typical slurry seal material, which allows the City to include more streets in the project.
The second preventative maintenance chosen was a thin maintenance overlay (TMO) in place of a cape seal for streets that have deteriorated beyond a slurry seal’s maintenance. A thin maintenance overlay is a 3/8-inch mix that uses a terminal blended rubberized binder. It is placed between 0.10 to 0.13 feet thick. This approach is effective on pavements with alligator cracking on the surface without causing damage to the base materials, and on pavements with block cracking that is less than a 1/2 inch wide. A thin maintenance overlay provides a new wear surface, improves “the ride”, and has a service life equal to or greater than a cape seal, and it costs less.
Increasing Public Outreach
The City recognized a need to create a program which drew residents to a comprehensive website that would offer critical and timely information on the project, dates of construction, maps of scheduled roads and contact information for the contractor and project manager. A new website was created for the 2014-2015 Road Rehab program: santa-clarita.com/Resurfacing. The site was built to be visually appealing, user friendly, and provide project details.
The webpage utilized multiple elements including:
- Frequently asked questions posted in the City’s Resident Service Center;
- Infographs simplifying and explaining each road treatment;
- Appealing photographs sharing the transformation of weathered streets when repaved;
- Helpful tips and instructions informing the public of their role during the construction process;
- A news and media widget linking to stories where the local press covered the project;
- Contact information for the contractor foremen, project manager and project hotline; and
- A detailed spreadsheet with clickable maps, detailing streets, dates of construction and type of treatment.
The City’s Communication and Technology Services staff created all of the webpage content. A City graphic artist created all of the key art, web and print marketing materials needed.
The City also created a marketing campaign to direct residents to the website, including a social media campaign and redesigned door hanger notices. The redesigned notices directed residents to the webpage and provided general information in an engaging and appealing format.
The targeted social media campaign was launched right before construction began on the roadways, encouraging residents to visit the new website and see if their streets would be affected. The goal was for residents to visit the webpage in advance of a 10-day door hanger notification in order to plan even further ahead.
In addition, the City pitched to local press contacts in order to push out the new website and encourage residents to see how they might be affected by the construction, such as increased traffic that may occur from the repaving of major arterial roads.
By changing the City’s Road Rehab to a road preservation approach, and incorporating two innovative and highly cost-effective techniques–fibrous slurry seals and thin maintenance overlays–the Public Works Department was able to increase the amount of pavement maintained from five million square feet to nearly eight million square feet, and for the same cost as previous years!
The communications efforts for the enhanced road resurfacing project implemented in the 2014-2015 Road Rehab program proved to be effective and successful. Santa-Clarita.com/Resurfacing had a total of 6,474 page views during the span of the project, peaking in July when the bulk of the construction was beginning.
Resident feedback received from the project manager and contractor foremen was significantly more positive than in previous years. Several residents were able to plan ahead and contact the project manager with concerns about how the construction might impact their special events, handicapped needs or other singular needs. With advanced notice, the project managers were able to reschedule and accommodate 98% of these issues.
Unlike previous years, there was only one instance of a recently resurfaced street being ruined by a misinformed resident driving over it too soon. Because of increased communications, residents were more aware of when they could move their cars across the resurfaced roadways.
Overall, the website proved to be a huge advantage to not only the engineers and contractors desiring to spread information about the project, but also to residents who could, for the first time in years, plan far ahead of the construction.
By working together to implement innovative solutions, the City was able to budget the 2015-2016 Road Rehab project to resurface more roads for less, and by revitalizing communication methods, residents were able to appreciate the value of the annual multi-million project and the importance of protecting newly paved streets.
Source: City of Santa Clarita