BROOKSVILLE — Drive around on any of Brooksville's streets, and you're likely to see evidence of one of the city's most persistent problems: degrading pavement.
Deteriorating asphalt, sinking road bases and crumbling drainage structures have combined to form a mine field of potholes, fissures and bumps in virtually every part of the city.
Reductions in tax revenue in recent years haven't helped as the city tries to maintain its streets. Even with an increase in street pavement funding in the 2011-12 budget to $300,000, a 200 percent increase over last year, the need for repairs to roads, sidewalks, curbs and drainage structures continues to grow.
Bare-bones budgets or not, the steady deterioration of the city's essential transportation infrastructure — some of which was built during the horse-and-buggy era — isn't good for the city's image or its future, said City Council member Lara Bradburn. Which is why she began pushing a year ago for the city to adopt a pavement management plan.
Last week, council members approved a $91,000 contract with Civil-Tech Consulting Engineers to come up with a long-term plan that will address the crucial needs of maintaining city streets and sidewalks.
"Up until now, it's all been about crisis management," Bradburn said. "We're mostly fixing potholes, but not looking at what we can do to prevent them. Up till now, very little has been done in the way of dealing with future needs of the city."
The laundry list of problems is long, said public works director Richard Radacky.
Over the next several month, Civil-Tech will collect data on the entire public right-of-way, including streets' surface, base and sidewalks. It will rate the condition of each so that city officials can adopt both short-term and long-term measures of repair.
"The idea is to get a snapshot of just what is out there and what condition it's in," Radacky said. "It makes no sense to continue putting Band-Aids on a broken leg. If a road has a weak base, no amount of asphalt is going to fix it."
Radacky cites as an example the effect known as "alligator cracking", a deterioration of the asphalt caused by water seepage into the subgrade. Repairing the damage often involves digging up the base and replacing it.
But by far the city's most complex issues are in the historic brick-street sections, where well-traveled roads such as Liberty Street, Bell Avenue and Brooksville Avenue have numerous issues.
Fixing them would be costly, Radacky said.
"There's a lot of settling that's gone on there over the years," he said. "It's probably the most expensive street work I could imagine doing."
Considering Brooksville's current financial fix, it's doubtful the city will launch into any large-scale paving projects anytime soon. However, Bradburn is hopeful that revenue from the city's revived red-light camera program might help pay for some of the more urgently needed work.
"The bill is past due in my opinion," Bradburn said. "Putting it off any longer isn't going to do anyone any good. It's time to get things rolling."
Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or firstname.lastname@example.org.