In January 2012, the Vancouver City Council established a goal of addressing the City’s long-term street funding needs.
With more than 1,800 lane miles of streets, 3,800 acres of right-of-way property, 234 traffic signals, tens of thousands of signs, 10 city-owned bridges, and thousands of miles of lane striping, Vancouver's street system is the City's single largest physical asset. Streets move us and they move our economy. They are the backbone of all community and business activities and impact Vancouver’s overall quality of life.
Our entire street system reflects a major community investment, costly to construct and currently estimated at more than $1 billion to replace.Just like a home or office building, a vehicle or a bicycle, our street system needs ongoing maintenance to continue to serve us now and into the future.
Across Vancouver, pavement conditions are continuing to deteriorate on both major and neighborhood streets. Each year, the City assesses pavement conditions and measures the growing number of streets in distress, with cracks, patches, potholes and other signs of aging and wear. As of 2012, the City had an estimated backlog of more than $120 million in streets needing pavement maintenance and/or full reconstruction.
Citizens are seeing the effects on the street, literally. In a 2012 Community Survey, satisfaction levels with street maintenance fell below Pacific Northwest and national averages, and fell 3 percent for major streets and 10 percent for neighborhood streets, when compared with the same survey done just two years prior in 2010.
Vancouver also has miles of major streets that were not built to current standards and need to be upgraded to support existing or planned community growth. The City’s Comprehensive Plan has estimated the costs to upgrade these major streets at more than $400 million, based on the 20-year projection for 2011 to 2030.To upgrade the most prominent and in-need streets, costs could exceed $200 million, based on the most current estimates.
At the same time, funding and resources have shrunk. In particular, funding for operations and maintenance have been reduced over the past six years, resulting in recurring upkeep and maintenance falling further behind.
The City Manager is tasked with developing a street funding policy and long-term strategy that sets targets for investment in pavement upgrades, as well as safety and capacity upgrades. Accordingly, this funding strategy aims to reflect community values and be affordable in the context of a full suite of city services.
Under the direction of the City Manager, staff are currently reviewing our street systems programs and funding. Recommendations are to be presented to the City Council by year-end 2013. Periodic updates will be provided to the Council at public workshops. City residents and businesses are encouraged to provide input.