Besides celebrating the American Public Works Association’s National Public Works Week May 21-27, your Public Works team has been as busy as popcorn kernels on a skillet working to deliver Council’s 2023 Workplan. In a typical year, the City constructs between $2.5 – 3 million dollars’ worth of paving and sewer improvement projects. This spring and summer the Public Works team is in the process of implementing over $13 million dollars’ worth of projects.
Trying to fit the pieces of at least five major puzzles together and orchestrate optimal schedules on ever-moving targets, through a pandemic, atmospheric rivers, utility outages, ancient underground infrastructure and let’s just admit, a less than ideal roadway network for accommodating alternate routes is a monumental task. Despite it all, we do our best!
Here are some answers to some questions we have recently received:
Why all this work is being done all at once?
There are many answers to this question, but as is often the case, a familiar theme is money and our responsibility to be a good steward of public funds. Some key reasons why all this work is occurring now:
- Community desires and Council direction. Much of the work is being done to improve the safety, reliability, and accessibility of our roadways. Council set a policy to raise the City’s Pavement Condition Index (PCI). PCI provides a snapshot of the pavement health of a road. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 100. We recently raised our PCI to 72 – 3rd best in Marin County!
This policy resulted in the development and adoption an aggressive pavement management plan to reach that goal, as well as renewal of the Municipal Service Tax (MST) to help fund those improvements.
- Deferred maintenance. Significant quantities and pieces of the City’s infrastructure have bypassed their design life and are overdue for rehabilitation or replacement. The longer these items are ignored, the more expensive they become.
- The COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic changed many things in our lives, including construction and paving materials costs and contractor availability. Prices for last years’ slurry and paving projects came in significantly higher than the City budget, and as a result, Council did not award a contact. Instead, the roadways scheduled for upgrades were placed on hold and combined with our 2023 and 2022 projects to attract more bidders and gain economies of scale.
- The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). ARPA provided millions of dollars to Mill Valley to enable us to fill funding shortfalls and complete the Downtown and East Blithedale projects now, rather than delay for another year when prices would increase.
- Weather. Much of the work can only be completed when temperatures are warm enough for concrete and pavement to cure and when forecasters predict reliable dry weather. Even this week’s minor drizzle on Tuesday required the paving contractor to pull up stakes in the Enchanted Knolls area approximately half way through the day as trying to work through the rain would result in poor quality/workmanship issues and the contractor could not warranty their work.
- Contractor capacity. We would love to schedule all the projects for the summer, but we have found that contractors do not have the capacity or time to do all projects in the two-month school break.
Update on Key Projects
The following is a brief status of some key projects, and please click on the embedded links to see more detailed information from each of the projects’ webpages.
East Blithedale Avenue - The Project Team has scheduled the final stage of paving to begin on June 12, 2023. The chosen commencement date is after graduation from the local schools when traffic volume is at its lowest. It will be necessary to close East Blithedale Avenue between Sycamore Avenue and Camino Alto. Learn more.
Downtown Project - After more than six years of planning, design and collaboration with the community and separate construction phases, the Downtown project is substantially complete. Learn more.
Sewer Rehabilitation - Sewer improvement work started this May and is scheduled to be completed by October 2023. Sewer work will take place along Hamilton Drive and Hauke Park, and on the Hamilton Drive Frontage Road near the Shelter Bay Office Complex.
2023 Pavement Rehab, Slurry Seal, and Patch Paving - Slurry Seal work is scheduled to start on June 19, and Patch Paving will take place June 8 – 14.
Thank you for your patience.
We recognize the impacts these projects cause and we will continue to mitigate those impacts whenever possible. We are committed to delivering the Council and community’s goals in a safe and effective manner while complying with the public contract code, state and local regulations, and to communicate information via different outreach platforms.
If you have questions or comments on any of the projects, please reach out directly to the contacts listed on each project webpage. If we are falling short on any of our goals, or you would like to provide input to help us improve our services, please email us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.