Oakland Launches Summer Paving Initiative
Department of Transportation, Funds in Hand, Tackles City's Most Cracked Up Streets
This summer, Oakland is hoping to repave 25 miles of city streets, compared to an average of six miles per year over the last few cycles. “Last time this was repaved was before I was born,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf at a press event Thursday morning, on the corner of 16th Street and 37th Avenue, to announce the initiative.
Ryan Russo, head of Oakland DOT, said the city is increasing paving efforts now that tax revenue has enabled them to purchase new equipment and hire some 20 more workers. “This $200 spreader box we bought replaced a 20-year-old piece of equipment that would frequently break down,” he said, pointing to a machine spreading fresh, smooth asphalt on 16th.
The plan, he explained, is to take advantage of the summer months and work 12-hour days, getting as much new asphalt down as possible during the dryest part of the year.
He added that Oakland suffers from an over $400 million backlog of road work and that the bad pavement damages automobiles (and bikes).
The work would not be possible without Measure KK, Oakland’s infrastructure bond, and SB1, last year’s gas tax increase, they explained. But SB1 is now in danger. “Republicans put an initiative on the ballot to repeal this gas tax adjustment, so things are at stake for infrastructure in this upcoming election,” said Russo.
“If SB1 is repealed, this kind of work will not happen,” added Schaaf. Oakland is currently receiving about $7 million a year from SB1. The Oakland City Council also approved $25 million in Measure KK spending in the 2017-2019 budget for street repairs.
Meanwhile, another Oakland DOT official told Streetsblog that the city will be painting high-visibility crosswalks and improving and repairing curb ramps.
That said, not everyone in the neighborhood was thrilled with the city’s plan. Robert Grove, a neighbor who lives just off 16th, complained about the state of adjoining sidewalks. Russo said there is also money in KK for sidewalk repair and that would be done separately. “Sidewalk repair is an ongoing effort and we’re encouraging Oaklanders to continue reporting damaged sidewalks to the City via OAK 311,” wrote Sean Maher, the department’s spokesman, in a follow-up email.