Bloomfield Hills awarded state funding to rate road conditions

By: Mary Beth Almond | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 22, 2021

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BLOOMFIELD HILLS — State funding will help Bloomfield Hills rate the condition of a number of its local roads next spring.

The city is one of 15 communities recently selected to receive a portion of over $56,000 in funding through the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments to support local road asset management planning.

“Asset management is not just figuring out which roads are in the worst shape and then fixing those first. The principle behind it is making the most impactful investment that you can,” said Trevor Layton, SEMCOG’s communications manager. “What we know about roads and bridges is that it is much more cost effective to keep as many roads that are already in fair condition from getting to poor by bumping them back up to good. That will extend the life of the asset. The issue is, you have to make really hard decisions in the reality that everyone is in, that there’s not enough funds to do everything that needs to be done. Asset management is a way to help make some of these difficult decisions.”

The program, according to officials, will allow for 1,790 local roads throughout the seven-county region to be analyzed using the Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating system, also known as PASER. Michigan’s Transportation Asset Management Council has adopted the PASER system for measuring statewide pavement conditions in Michigan. Streets are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 10 using the PASER rating system. Roads that are considered “good” have a PASER rating of 8, 9 or 10, and only require routine maintenance, have been recently seal coated, or are newly constructed.

Roads that are considered “fair” have a PASER of 5, 6 or 7, and still show good structural support, but their surface is starting to deteriorate.

Roads that are considered “poor” have a PASER of 1, 2, 3 or 4, and exhibit alligator cracking and rutting.

Amy O’Leary, the executive director of SEMCOG, said effective, impactful infrastructure investment relies on an accurate assessment of the condition of existing assets.

“SEMCOG, MDOT and many of our regional transportation partners collect this type of data on the most heavily traveled roadways throughout the region to support sound investment, and these local awards enable communities to jumpstart their own asset management efforts,” O’Leary said in a statement.

In Bloomfield Hills, the state funding will allow the city to rate 37 miles of local roads using the PASER system.

City Manager David Hendrickson said the city rates its roads multiple times a year “unofficially,” and on average, it takes around three-five years to comply with requirements under Public Act 51 — which defines the formula by which Michigan distributes money for road maintenance to cities, villages and counties.

“Since 2016, the city of Bloomfield Hills has focused vigorously on improving our entire road and infrastructure system, and we have made significant improvements. We have improved all existing water mains that were 6 inches to 8 inches. This improvement provides enhanced fire fighting capabilities and improved water service to homes. We have also replaced the asphalt paving on those streets with the water main and other infrastructure improvements,” Hendrickson said in an email.

In 2017, the Bloomfield Hills City Commission authorized the beginning of the city’s road rehabilitation program — which is designed for milling, repairing and overlaying existing asphalt streets with new layers of asphalt. The first year, the city spent approximately $1.5 million to rehabilitate city streets with new asphalt paving.

“The city PASER rating before this initiative was 3.6. In 2018, we improved the PASER rating to 6.1. Since then, we have continued to make significant improvements to our road systems,” Hendrickson explained. “The $2,500 grant received from SEMCOG will help us understand how our road improvement initiative has worked and help us in future planning. As we continue to improve our roads, we will need less money to improve and maintain them.”

Since the PASER rating report is not due until September 2022, Hendrickson said he plans to work through another season of road rehabilitation before completing the report. The city will use its engineering firm, Hubbell, Roth and Clark — to conduct the PASER rating using the approved grant money.

Other municipalities receiving funding include Berkley, Center Line, Clarkson, Clawson, Fraser, Gibraltar, Grosse Pointe Farms, Macomb Township, Mount Clemens, Oakland County, Port Huron, Roseville, Royal Oak and Shelby Township.