Ask any Grover Beach resident what their chief concern is with the city and the answer will be the same.
In the past two years, the city has completed a $5 million portion of a massive road rehabilitation project aimed at bringing the city’s aging residential roads up to snuff. After a quick start repaired 84 blocks in two years — mostly in the northeast and southeast portions of the city — residents complain the project has seemed to lag with nothing actually happening on the street.
Residents won’t see any repaving start until August, five months behind schedule.
An $8 million second phase of construction was expected to be underway this month, but city officials say they underestimated how long it would take to design the 5 miles of road slated for this next round of repairs. That delay has increased costs, which means only about 3.5 miles can be completed this year, said public works director Greg Ray.
The delay is largely because of the size of the latest phase, which will be the single largest road project in the city’s history, Ray said.
“It’s a big project and it takes a long time to get a project like that out on the streets, but it’s a very aggressive way of going about it,” Ray said at a City Council meeting Monday.
The roads to be repaired in the next phase stretch throughout the city: Mentone Avenue, Longbranch Avenue between Third and 10th streets, Third Street, South Eighth Street between Grand Avenue and Farroll Street, South 13th Street between Grand Avenue and Farroll Street, North 16th between Grand and Mentone avenues and Stinson Court.
7 miles Amount of roads repaired by Grover Beach so far
The entire 20-year, 29-mile road renovation project will be paid for through $48 million in bonds, which voters approved as Measure K in 2014. The bonds are financed through an annual property assessment of about $77 per $100,000 of assessed value until the last bond matures in four decades.
The council approved the first $5 million bond issue in 2015 and a second $8 million bond issue in 2016.
Newport Avenue was slated for a major design overhaul this year, but city staff said the $8 million bond issuance may not cover that construction this year, depending on what revamps residents say they want for the road during public workshops this spring.
Work on Newport Avenue may have to be delayed until the council issues another bond; a date hasn’t been set for that third bond issue. (The council has in the past said it would issue a new bond every three years, though it sped up that timeline in 2016.)
Council members on Monday questioned the delays and asked for input on how the projects could be sped up.
“I think no matter what we do, we’ve got to stop these big breaks,” Councilwoman Mariam Shah said. “These breaks, people don’t understand them, because we’ve got the money and we say we want to do it, so we’ve got to stop those. I think people will be happy when they see shovels out there.”
Staff said the project’s size was the biggest reason for the delays — Ray said city staff “overestimated” what it could do with the latest $8 million bond and how long it would take. Originally, the staff estimated it would have between $1 million and $1.5 million left over from the $8 million bond to carry over to the next round of road improvements. Instead, that surplus has evaporated and Newport Avenue also may not be completed in this current phase.
Despite the delays, the City Council must soon decide what streets could be up next so they can keep the project rolling.
On Monday, the council directed staff to prioritize streets west of Fourth Street if leftover funds become available, to begin the design process on those roads as soon as possible.
Those would include portions of Front Street, Atlantic City Avenue, Ocean View Avenue, Carmelde Lane, Beckett Place and North First Street.
“I think folks there have been feeling neglected and left out,” Mayor John Shoals said. “If we have money or we find money, just start the design — even if we don’t have money for the construction, we’ve got to get a design and we’ve got to go back out and issue another bond. That puts us on track to get that done.”
Other roads that could be improved through the next bond issuance are North Eighth Street between Atlantic City and Grand avenues, Rockaway Avenue between Fourth and Eighth streets, Seventh Street south of Rockaway Avenue, Seabright Avenue, 10th Street south of Rockaway Avenue, South 11th Street, Longbranch Avenue east of 13th Street, Barca Street, Huber Street, Griffin Street and the remaining portions of South 16th Street.