An unexpectedly severe winter with a high level of temperature cycling and precipitation has been rough on roads throughout Western Colorado this year. The numerous freeze/thaw cycles (where temperatures fluctuate between above freezing and below freezing) allow water to make it into cracks and underneath asphalt where it then freezes and expands. Repeated freezing and thawing weakens the pavement which can then lead to pavement damage. Rifle sees more freeze/thaw cycles than anywhere in the Western United States. Locations further to the west freeze less often and remain thawed. Locations further to the east stay frozen and don’t thaw out.
City of Rifle Public Works Director Brian Prunty estimates that Rifle is seeing a 10-20% increase in potholes this season. This issue is exacerbated by deferred road rehabilitations and rebuilds which is a direct result of lack of funds in the Rifle Street Fund. The Street Fund has been operating at a deficit since 2012, averaging $670K deficit spending per year.
For 2023, Rifle City Council is authorizing that streets be repaired using money from the General Fund. The General Fund is intended to support the operation of the police department, administration and provide other City services. This transfer of funds will improve streets in 2023 and address some problems, but is not a long-term solution. Despite the financial handicap, the City is planning an “aggressive schedule of repairs”.
Repairs will amp up in the next month. They will be hindered from April 17-28th as crews and resources are diverted to assist with Rifle’s annual spring cleanup. However, Prunty wants to assure citizens that maintaining our City streets is a top priority. For a more detailed analysis of the Streets Capital and Maintenance Plan, please go to https://www.rifleco.org/822/Streets-Capital-and-Maintenance-Plan.
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