Pittsfield plans minor maintenance on some unaccepted streets
PITTSFIELD — The city is considering spending about $100,000 of the $3.5 million expected for road maintenance this year to upgrade some rough sections of streets not officially approved and accepted by the city.
Commissioner of Public Services David Turocy told members of the City Council's Public Works and Utilities Committee on Monday that he is considering such a project after receiving several requests from councilors with numerous unaccepted ways in their wards for minor maintenance work, such as surface leveling and adding chip seal.
Turocy noted, however, that since state Chapter 90 funding for road work can't be allocated to unaccepted streets, any such work would be paid for by the city.
The city now expects to have about $3.5 million in both state funding and city capital improvement funds for paving, engineering work, crack sealing, line painting and other street improvements this year.
Turocy and City Engineer Matthew Billetter gave a written and verbal report to the committee Monday on the city's 25 miles of unaccepted streets — meaning those not formally accepted by the mayor and council and not certified as meeting engineering specifications.
Pittsfield has approximately 181 miles of accepted streets.
Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli and others, in asking for the report, also are seeking some minimal upgrade work on at least some unaccepted streets. There are 8.87 miles of unaccepted streets in his ward, the highest total among the wards, Simonelli said, and "most are not very long roads" — many extending for 100 yards or less off accepted streets.
"What I hear about this is, 'I pay a lot of taxes to the city; what do I get for it?' " he said of a common constituent complaint.
Simonelli said he doesn't believe the city should pave unaccepted streets but should consider doing enough maintenance to "make them acceptable to the residents."
Ward 1 Councilor Lisa Tully said there are 25 unaccepted streets in her ward, which has 4.27 miles in total. "I would like to see us start chipping away at this," she said, "no pun intended." After taking a recent tour of unaccepted streets in Ward 1, she said, "I don't know how people get down some of these streets."
However, Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi reiterated his concern that the city already has a severe backlog of maintenance to do on its accepted streets, many of which were listed in a consultant's pavement management study report in 2015 as in failed or poor condition.
"I want to support a minimal amount [for unaccepted street maintenance], but I want to see our accepted streets taken care of," he said.
Turocy said his intention now is to use about $100,000 in city road funds to apply chip seal or do other work on about a mile of unaccepted street in total, using highway crews and private contractors for the work.
"That is what I'm thinking now," he said. "We will see where we are in the summer."
The commissioner said he considers that size project "a starting point" to determine the effectiveness of such work, adding that he would first consider streets within a general neighborhood "to get the biggest bang for the buck."
He and Billetter also addressed councilor questions on whether the city could accept some streets that either meet or are close to meeting city and state specifications. They said only two streets — Valentine Road and Wealthy Avenue — are good candidates for acceptance, requiring only a small amount of paperwork to certify they are in compliance, followed by a vote of the council.
Asked by Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers about the status of Tamarack Road, the officials said acceptance for that road would require some expensive surveying and/or engineering work to certify its specifications; and other issues, such as the possible need to secure rights of way, might add to the cost.
Committee Chairman Christopher Connell said he'd like to see more detail on which streets could be brought up to specifications to become accepted streets and what the estimated costs would be.
Connell also asked the officials to look into a discrepancy in the total mileage of accepted streets in the city between the state's total in determining Chapter 90 aid to Pittsfield — 193.2 miles — and the city's total of 181.
Billetter said it seems the state is counting streets or street sections that it determines could or should be an accepted way, such as Valentine Road.
The committee tabled the unaccepted streets issue until its next meeting, after which members are expected to prepare a recommendation to the full council.
The report prepared by the city officials included a list of unaccepted streets in the city. Streets are listed by ward and information on each includes the length of the street or section, the width — a factor in whether it could be meet standards for acceptance — and surface condition, based on the pavement management report survey.
Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.
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