City might ask developers to pay for damaged Columbia streets

Thursday, September 8, 2011 | 6:22 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The City Council decided during a meeting Tuesday to hold a work session to discuss who should pay for the repair of streets that are damaged by development projects.

Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe raised the issue, saying the council should consider creating a policy for road damage caused when developers go beyond ordinary use of streets.

Decisions of other cities

Beaux Arts Village, Wash.: Requires that people planning projects worth more than $150,000 pay a heavy truck fee, unless they can prove they won't use heavy trucks. The fee is intended to offset the cost of repairing streets.

Warner, N.H.: Developers must get permission to drive on certain roads with trucks weighing more than six tons. Permission to drive might depend on whether the developer is willing to provide a bond to cover damage to roads.

Steuben County, N.Y.: Developers must submit plans for the roads they intend to drive over during construction. The county will inspect the roads before and after, then charge the developers for any necessary repairs.

Pennsylvania: Developers must agree to pay a bond to cover the cost of possible damage to roads they travel. They may choose whether to contract road repair work on their own or leave it to the city and pay the bill. 

She cited an example from about five years ago when Southland Drive was "pulverized" during the construction of The Crossing Church. Hoppe said around 300 trucks carrying concrete and dirt drove on the road in one day when the church was being built in 2006.

"We don't want to put the cost of road deterioration on the average citizen," Hoppe said. "So we need to take a look at what other communities are doing."

At Hoppe's request, City Attorney Fred Boeckmann looked at other cities to see how they address the problem. In a memo to the council that was presented Tuesday night, he supplied sample ordinances from Beaux Arts Village, Wash., and Warner, N.H.; guidelines from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation; and a road use and repair agreement from Steuben County, N.Y., for the work session.

Hoppe said she thought it was important to look at how the city of Columbia can ensure the cost of road repairs is funded equitably.

Second Ward Councilman Jason Thornhill is willing to talk about it, but he didn't want to overstate the problem.

"It is not fair to say that all the road damages are done by the developers,” Thornhill said. "As the economy slows down, it gives us an opportunity to review the current policy in regard to new development.”

Fifth Ward Councilwoman Helen Anthony agreed the "issue is worth council looking at.” She added, however, that she has received no complaints regarding developers damaging roads since she has been in office.

Hoppe said she guesses the work session will happen in November.

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Harold Sutton September 8, 2011 | 8:38 p.m.

Damage done to public property must be paid for and perhaps even the repairs should be done by a third party. The heavy trucks do a lot of damage especially to asphalt pavement. The Contractors need to have it included in their bids. It is the customer who wants the work done irregardless of collateral damage and should therefore be prepared to pay.

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett September 8, 2011 | 10:02 p.m.

@"We don't want to put the cost of road deterioration on the average citizen," Hoppe said. "So we need to take a look at what other communities are doing."

Thank you. Hold the thought. Act on it, please.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 9, 2011 | 12:08 a.m.

Was Southland Drive built by the city or a private entity? What shape was it in prior to the trucks driving on it? Could it be proved conclusively that the trucks "pulverized" the road or was it poorly built to begin with? Plenty of things to look at before the council starts setting policy willy-nilly.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance September 9, 2011 | 1:10 a.m.

Hoppe brought it up five years ago and suggested the city staff to check how other communities dealt with the program. It would be easy to prove. There is a certain "life expectancy" a road has. This is based on years of exposure and common traffic. Combining neighborhood witnesses and 300 trucks, I'd say the council is doing there job in meeting this problem head on. Good job to Ms. Hoppe.

(Report Comment)

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