Westfield's worst roads may not be paved first, officials said.

WESTFIELD, NJ — After taking a year off from extensive road repaving — the result of the pandemic — this year will mark a paradigm shift in the way the town paves its municipal roadways, officials said.

Last week, the town council introduced a $2.65 million bond ordinance to fund a year’s worth of capital improvements, including $1.7 million in road paving and similar street work, along with a series of other capital purchases for the police, fire and public works departments. A public hearing on the bond measure is set for Tuesday.

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While the town is only repaving 5.5 miles of roadway, Town Administrator Jim Gildea told the town council, he estimates that Elizabethtown Gas will repave 12.4 miles of roadway as it installs new gas lines and repaves the entire width of the roadways to meet the town’s requirement approved in 2019 that utilities repave the full width of roads if they tear into them for utility improvements.

Additional monies in the bond ordinance include $120,000 for police equipment, including radar units and traffic safety devices, $240,000 for public works equipment and $55,000 for an air-compressor to aid firefighters using self-contained breathing apparatus, the ordinance says. Also included in the ordinance is $240,000 for public works equipment, including a front-end loader and $119,040 for fencing, benches and other amenities at local parks.

With the lion’s share of the monies going toward the street paving, Gildea said, municipal officials have learned it is more efficient to conduct this work in sections, rather than paving the worst roads first.

“We realized that when you do things in a grid process, you can be much more efficient, much quicker in your process,” Gildea said. “And then you’re getting grids of the town done at once, so you don’t have to go back there every year, or go back there every other year, and have equipment go over pavement that was just done the year before.”

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While the town is not paving the worst roads first, he said, the municipality is sharing with the public the roads that it expects to be paved in the coming years. That list has been posted here on the town’s website.

Gildea said that in the last four years the town has seen 46 miles of roadway repaved through its partnership with Elizabethtown Gas, something he called “unprecedented.”

“Doing this for so long, it’s really shocking to me when you see the roads that can get done with these kinds of things in place,” he said.

The shift in how Westfield paves roads follows a study that the town had commissioned in 2020 in which a consultant ranked each road by the based on its condition. The rankings give the roads a pavement condition index, or PCI, score.

At the council meeting, Town Engineer Kris McAloon said the municipality used the road assessment to examine how it would work addressing roads on the basis of “worst first” or by conducting the work in grids.

Repaving the worst roads first, McAloon said, would create a situation where the municipality ends up returning to the same neighborhoods year after year.

“In the worst first scenario we’re going to be in this neighborhood for 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025, so we’re going to be there for four separate years,” McAloon said, referring to a map at the meeting.

The better solution, he said, is going to do the work in sections.

“We are now going into an area and just spending the time with the equipment to complete the entire what we’re calling the grid,” McAloon said. “Again, it decreases mobilization costs it increases efficiencies and quality of the work.”

Click here to view the list roads up to be repaved.

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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