A Crack in the Road; We're Not Playing Sim City

April 16, 2015 | UPDATED 9:30 p.m. While not as visible or glamorous as discussions with a room full of avid supporters for Elk Gro...

April 16, 2015 |

UPDATED 9:30 p.m.

While not as visible or glamorous as discussions with a room full of avid supporters for Elk Grove's forthcoming aquatics center, soccer stadium, or for that matter wayfinding signs, road maintenance has been a topic of some discussion. Most notable has been presentations by Elk Grove Public Works Director, Richard Shephard.

On at least two occasions, Shepard has advised the Elk Grove City Council that deferring maintenance will have deleterious effects on the city's streets and roads. In October, 2013 Shepard gave a lengthy presentation on the current condition of city roads and the effects delayed maintenance will have on them.

According to Shepard in this video presentation, (video starts at the point of these comments) the city currently has about an $8 million annual road maintenance funding shortage.   

Since that time little has been done. Shepard has offered similar advice on at least one other occasion. Rather than address the matter, the city council has decided to defer road maintenance spending in pursuit of other discretionary projects and hopes that a yet-to-be-determined county sales tax initiative requiring a two-thirds majority vote will provide the needed funding.

While many residents are undoubtedly familiar with the city's numerous road maintenance problems, particularly east of Highway 99 and along Waterman Road, there are telltale signs of the deterioration Shepard spoke of in less obvious places.
Left untreated, cracks like this one on Elk Grove's Laguna Boulevard
can quickly deteriorate roads and  cost taxpayers more money than 
had they been properly maintained. 
One such place is eastbound Laguna Boulevard between Interstate 5 and Babson Drive.

While the road appears to be in good condition, there are significant cracks appearing. As you can see from the photo, there is a 1/2 inch wide crack on the left side of the center lane that runs about one mile from at least Harbor Point Drive east to Babson Drive.

The crack is wide enough that weeds have taken root the entire length of the crack and as is clearly visible. While the weeds in the crack do not appear to have any negative effects as it now grows, intuitively, if left untreated, this will undoubtedly need maintenance, and the longer we wait, the more expensive it will be to repair.  

So when the city council takes part in next week's Cap to Cap lobbying effort in Washington D.C, between the parties, catered meals, and hobnobbing with Gucci-shoe wearing lobbyists, please keep in mind maintaining roads is equally as important as pursuing funding for some road that will encourage suburban sprawl. Remember, you're not playing Sim City.  


During Shepard's presentation in the video linked above, he mentioned alligator cracking in passing. 
From what can be ascertained from online sources, the mile long crack on Laguna Boulevard appears to be a longitudinal crack. 

According to the website Pavementmanagement.org, longitudinal cracking "Allows moisture infiltration, roughness, and it may indicate the possible onset of alligator cracking and structural failure."

If the crack is less than 1/2 (low severity) of an inch it recommends to "Crack seal to prevent (1) entry of moisture into the subgrade through the cracks and (2) further raveling of the crack edges. HMA can provide years of satisfactory service after developing small cracks if they are kept sealed."

If the crack is high severity - 1/2 inch or greater - it is recommended to "Remove and replace the cracked pavement layer with an overlay."

Cal Trans describes alligator cracking as being "characterized by interconnected or interlaced cracks in the wheel path, forming a series of small polygons, (generally less than 1 foot on each side). The cracking resembles the appearance of alligator skin, thus the term alligator cracking. Alligator cracking is a load-related distress and occurs when the wheel loads exceed the design of the roadbed. 

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Anonymous said...


Sounds like a Ponzi scheme. Take development fees throw up houses,collect fees, use for projects like the international soccer stadium and olympic water park.

Taxpayers get stuck when the music stops and there aren't enough chairs.

Anonymous said...

I believe this cracking is called longitudinal cracking. Those cracks allowed water to penetrate the surface this winter/spring and lead to more deterioration. If not quickly repaired advanced cracking occurs, think my Dad called it Alligator cracking.

That's a heavily traveled street and will likely lead to more significant deterioration if not repaired pronto. Waterman..they've already waited too long and it will be costly to repair. But then again, cracks and potholes in the road goes along with the roadside weeds not mowed.


Anonymous said...

Is there any thing all of us can do together as citizens of this city to set term limit for these career politicians? They are spending our tax dollars chasing unrealistic dreams and legacies. Our needs are being neglected. Non of them bother to answer our questions. These career politicians managed to run for office unopposed last two elections. We all have to be proactive if we want to be governed by leaders who have good consciences and are accountable.

Anonymous said...

Thurs. CH 13 did a story on the cracks on Laguna Blvd. Per Mr. Shepard "first he's heard of this, but not to worry...this is normal". Sound familiar?


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