84% of Alachua County’s road network in “dire need” of repair

NW 69th Street


At today’s Alachua County Commission meeting, Public Works Director Ramon Gavarrete presented the report from the consultants who were hired in November 2019 to create a pavement management methodology for the County. Gavarrete explained that a pavement management system is “a system that will allow you to look at your pavement, look at your assets, and provide a system that is not arbitrary, to be able to actually manage your pavement a lot better.” He also explained that roads are often the biggest asset owned by a governmental entity. One of his goals is to have a dashboard on the Public Works website where people can look at a map and then select any road to see whether it is currently in the list of roads to be improved.

Gavarrete said the consultants and his staff drove about 99% of the roads in the county to determine their condition first-hand. Roads were then assigned a Pavement Condition Index (PCI), and the cost of repairing them varies with the condition.

Alachua County’s average PCI is now 60.1 (right on the line between poor and fair), but that includes subdivision roads that are in better condition (average PCI of 63.9). If you only look at the arterial/collector roads, the PCI is 57.9. The goal of pavement management is to keep roads in good enough condition that they don’t need expensive repairs. The repair techniques that are available in the first 10-15 years after a road is paved are much cheaper than the ones needed if the maintenance isn’t done in those early years. The costs start as low as $0.65 per square yard but ramp up to $44-$156 per square yard once the pavement is in fair to poor condition. Gavarrete said, “So if every five to eight years you do some kind of treatment, whether it’s a slurry seal, rejuvenator, or microsurfacing, and you keep your asphalt on the upper part, you reduce your maintenance costs.”

Alachua County has about 700 miles of roads, with about 1400 lane-miles. The current backlog (the amount of money needed to bring the whole network up to good condition) is over $408 million. 94% of the money in the pie chart on the left is for roads that require “anywhere from a rehab to a reconstruction… Or if you go by treatment, 84% of your network is in dire need of having some kind of rehab or reconstruction already.” Gavarrete said it’s “basically deferred maintenance for the last… 20, 30 years. We have roadways in this county that were paved 40 years ago.”

He showed several examples of roads in poor condition, including NW 98th Street, which will cost over $2 million to rehabilitate.

Gavarrete said they ran several scenarios with the software:

  1. Unlimited funding scenario – Determine all current network needs
  2. Current practice – Worst-first treatments with all funding going to higher traffic routes
  3. $15 million/year split by Low Traffic ($2.5 million) and High Traffic ($12.5 million) starting from FY2023
  4. Maintain current PCI = 60 – Maintain current network condition through the end of analysis period
  5. Achieve Target PCI = 70 – by the end of analysis period

Alachua County currently spends about $4 million per year; Scenario 3 would cost $15 million per year; it would cost $31.5 million per year to maintain the roads at the current PCI (i.e., just to keep roads in their current condition), and it would cost $41.5 million per year to increase the PCI to 70.

Gavarrete said that if they continue spending $4 million per year for the next 20 years, “your average pavement condition will go from a 60 to a 29, what does that mean? That means that you’re going to have a lot of roads that will be returning back to lime rock in the next 20 years. It’s going to happen. It’s already sort of happening.”

This chart shows the percentage of roads in good condition under the various scenarios. If the County stays at the current funding level, the percentage of roads in good condition will drop to 5-6% by 2023, and it will be about 3% by 2040.

Gavarrete recommended increasing the funding to $15 million per year, starting in FY2023, because the budget is mostly set for FY2022. He said that if the board gave him direction, he would come back with a program and the roadway list.

The discussion turned to how to fund the program. Chair Ken Cornell said, “We’re going to need more than bake sales and garage sales to get to that number.”

Commissioner Mary Alford said that roads in good repair can save residents a lot of money on car repairs: “That’s a lot of economic value.” She said that good roads increase property values and increase the opportunity for economic development. She added, “I am really concerned about climate change. I’m really concerned about the environment. I’m really concerned about the really hard work we need to do in equity. But all of those things have to sit on a foundation of what we do to run our county. And that foundation is things like, you know, fire and sheriff’s departments and criminal justice and roads, you know. It’s those basic things that we have to take care of. And then we build on that to become the place we want to be.”

Commissioner Anna Prizzia asked why gas tax dollars don’t get spent on roads. Gavarrete said they do, but 5 of the 11 cents in local option fuel taxes are designated for increasing capacity. He added, “We’re paying for deferred maintenance now. All the years prior that we haven’t done really what we should be doing, now we’re going to be paying for it.”

Commissioner Chuck Chestnut brought up a surtax as one way to raise the money for the budget increase to get to $15 million per year. “I think we are moving in the right direction. It’s just that the funding is not all there, but if the manager is being creative like she’s been in the past, I think we could probably reach those goals.”

Cornell said he was elected in 2014, and “that was also the same year that we had a referendum for a sales tax referendum, which failed. So I ran on roads. I got elected, but the referendum on roads failed… What I’m hearing this board say is we want to invest a significant amount of money, three times what we have done ever, $4 million to $15 million potentially — that’s going to require some really tough decisions. Like where do we cut our budget. … I’m in favor of telling the community that I’m ready to make a significant long-term investment in a recurring manner over the next 15 to 20 years because I think it’s good for our community. I think it’s good for economics. I think it’s good for all of the other things that we want to do if we have a strong foundation. But it means we’re going to have to probably cut some other things that we all really like… And we have to find maybe some additional funding sources. If we go back out to the taxpayers for sales tax and they say no, then, you know, they are saying no to the sales tax, you know, but we have other potential options with MSTUs or ad valorem or more general fund.”

County Manager Michele Lieberman said one option would be to modify the purpose of the unincorporated area MSTU and add millage to it (it was set to zero when the fire assessment fee was adopted). “A county has 10 mills in general ad valorem and also 10 mills in municipal services. So that doesn’t go in our original 10 mills; it goes to the 10 mills extra we have. The MSTU for law enforcement is low enough that we have enough room to do an MSTU for roads. In that manner, the public knows that it is cordoned off for that reason and that reason only.”

One mill in the unincorporated area raises about $7 million, but it can only be used in the unincorporated area, so municipalities would also need to join in the MSTU if they have mills available. Lieberman said they could increase it gradually by half a mill a year, but if they want all the money available in FY23, they’ll need 2 mills all at once to generate $14 million. She also recommended setting property taxes to the rolled-back rate to offset the increased MSTU tax. That would still result in higher taxes but would offset some of it. Then they could eliminate the $4 million currently in the general fund for roads and use the MSTU funds instead. Lieberman said, “My hope would be that after two or three years of this tax in place, and the public seeing all of this road work going on, that we could go back to them in 2026 and say we would like to propose a road tax… Because then we could cut that 2 mills off of our budget, and they will have a choice.”

No motion was made, but Cornell said he heard a consensus on the $15 million per year number, which is what staff needed to bring back budget and funding options.


  • Isn’t that something? The head of public works actually got out and drove the roads in Alachua County. The roads we, as the tax paying residents of Alachua County, drive every day. Yet it took Mr. Gavarette and his “consultants” thousands of tax dollars to conclude that our roads are in bad shape. No $hit Sherlock! Just outside of Public Works in Hague there is a nice little road, CR 237. Great for cycling. That road hasn’t been resurfaced in over 25 years, probably closer to 35. Funny how much you discover when you get out and see the community you’re supposed to provide services for.

    On top of that, our idiot commissioners are now looking to fund repair of those same roads by adding MORE taxes! Looks like more misuse of tax funds by another leg of local liberal government. That in itself provides explanation why roads haven’t been repaired in rural areas. The rural areas lean conservative so the liberal majority don’t care if you have to drive through creeks, over trees, or through holes deep enough to break an axle.

    All you dumbarse liberals – how much more stupid can you actually get? I get it, you still believe but you’re too stupid to actually know.

    • Feel better now that you slammed the “libs” on the county commission with your little rant?

  • Too busy trying to rule our personal lives to take care of what they are supposed to, infrastructure. Waste our money so tax us some more – why not, they get away with it every single time.

  • NE 53rd Avenue out to Waldo road is a head on collision waiting to happen. I’ve brought it up before and was told it’s being considered, like sometime in the future. Cut the bloated duplication of services, personal cars, etc. Merge the City with the County Governments, Minus the City Commissioners and Mayor and a new staff of Commissioners with business experience.

    • The big plan is to remove our borders and make
      A one world government…federalize law enforcement.
      Have the United Nations dictate over our lives. No
      Thanks about larger government…sometimes home rule
      Works in our favor.

  • You wads don’t get it. If there are less lanes, less usable roads, and scarce parking, you’ll be forced to use public transportation or bicycles like a good citizen should. Meanwhile, our leaders can manage better in feel-good electric rides with named parking.spaces. Any increase in taxes/fees will eventually be diverted to more urgent things like BLM, felon payments, community counseling, and general outreach. Quit complaining.

    • Mary Alford: …”…I’m concerned about climate change,…
      I’m concerned about the environment,… I’m concerned
      About equity…”, and there you have it folks! Now some
      Commie libtard please do an ad hominem attack on me and
      Say I’m on drugs or my brain is wiped out or some other such nonsense.—you know what Mary? Using the “big lie” from your UN “great reset” agenda: you need to lock everyone down on the planet in
      Quarantine until 2030 to reduce CO2 emissions, & redistribute
      The wealth by paying people not to work…there will
      Be no gas cars by 2030, we’ll “build back better” with
      Electric cars, solar panels and Don Quixote’s windmills…
      our roads and the planet will be saved! But of course, everyone needs to get the vaccine….what was
      That Mary? There’s too much population on the planet?
      Oh, right, shhhh…we know how to reduce that… Put the
      Unvaccinated in camps, or is it that the people who took
      The shot voluntarily offed themselves and case solved?
      We’re going 100% renewable and Bielarski is going to
      Appoint a climate czar with GRU. Yeah, all our decisions
      Are going to be based on climate change and equity…
      We’re gonna save the planet from global warming…
      We’re going to have a new world order, a global reset…
      Let’s do away with dirty cash and go digital currency
      Because cash is dirty and spreads Covid. Everyone
      Will have a universal basic income and a social credit
      Score…we’ll take away all the guns so that solves
      The black on black crime. We’ll get rid of air travel
      And have high speed rail…No beef because according
      To ocassio, “cow farts are heating up the planet and causing global warming”… you won’t be able to travel
      Without contact tracing and everyone will will have to
      Wear a mask and get a booster shot every 6 mos
      Or you can’t participate in commerce with your nanotechnology implant that’s picked up by wi-Fi
      & 5g…we have the facial recognition cameras everywhere and in intersections…there’s no escape.
      You must comply or what? That doesn’t sound like
      Utopia to me… all this from a discussion about resurfacing some roads….

      • I have a nice little road near my house that begins at hwy 236 and will take me straight to Santa Fe High School. And Publix. And Dunkin. It’s a lovely scenic route for people who are deathly afraid of driving on I•75. Albeit a very narrow 2•lane road, it is a quick and easy way to get directly to my son’s school, or to grocery shop, or to get coffee. The road is called 235A. If you have ever driven north on that road from Alachua, you will know that this article is accurate, as that road is an abomination! I drive a cute little sports car, no way would I ever drive on that pothole ridden, groove indented, and deeply gouged pavement road! I don’t mind driving on I•75, in fact I quite enjoy it. But 235A would be a much easier route for me to take depending on where my destination is, and I refuse to drive my car on that mess. I see semi trucks and school busses entering & leaving that road every time I pass by, so no wonder it’s in crap shape. But why doesn’t the county repair it? Especially with the new housing subdivisions being built off of it? I asked at a County Board meeting two years ago, and they had no idea what I was talking about. Obviously if you don’t live in Gainesville, the County Board could care less about your area. All they want is your property tax money, which considering the area where I live, is a substantial amount. Our real estate taxes are $6,100/year and I’m sure the homes & properties in my surrounding area are the same or higher. We regret moving to Alachua County.

        • Roads are crap on the west side of county. CR 235 from Newberry to Alachua holds water so bad when it’s raining you have to slow down to 35mph to get through. County won’t even cut the grass back to make it safer. I called last year and complained but no response. I guess their waiting on a fatality before they do any maintenance. 94th ave is just as bad. You can always tell when you drive west on CR 232 when you hit Gilchrist county. The roads are nice and smooth. Take some notes Alachua County.

  • Hold back a certain percentage of county property taxes from your bill. Let them come after you and take them to court for failure to keep the county streets safe! They are by far the biggest panel of idiots God created! If your car is damaged from these unsafe roads or you are in an accident attributed to a faulty pavement, get an atty and sue them!

    • I wish it worked that way…I pay $27,000/yr in
      Property taxes and got pot holes in front of my
      Business…if you don’t pay your taxes, you’ll lose
      Your land to tax deed & auction..I have no kids,
      I shouldn’t have to pay school board taxes with
      Your reasoning…I like where you’re coming from though… they want to do away with private property
      Rights anyway and control the means of production
      And all the natural resources…this is your communism
      At work. The plan is to lock you down because of
      The pandemic and the roads will get less wear and
      Tear and they can kick the can farther down the road.
      Pay for everything by printing $. You won’t need roads
      Because you’ll be in your sustainable village taking
      Public transportation.

  • Suggestion for the ACBOCC: In your budget for the next four years spend all the road money on projects east of 34th Street. That way if the fringe element gets their dream of a Springs County in 2025, at least Alachua County will be left with good roads. Bonus–Springs County can show us how it’s done, how they pay for roads with zero property taxes.

    • That’s a trade-off I would take any day as long as you and your libertarded ideas stay east.

      That’s the same invite I welcome people to Florida with. Come on down, enjoy…just leave your idiotic $o¢iali$t’ agendas from whence you came.

      You couldn’t fix it there and all but a few counties in Florida aren’t broken.

      Unfortunately, many idiots still believe…

      • we pay road taxes they use the money to narrow the road (calm traffic) & add (seldom used) bike lanes with huge sidewalks
        Complaining results in higher taxes & narrower roads!
        They hate cars except the charter officers who get a $5K+ allowance & their own reserved parking @ city hall

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