ORINDA — Figuring out how much it would cost to fix all of the city's roads and drains is one thing. Finding a way to pay for it is quite another.

"You need $73 million; we wish you luck in finding it," said Alex Evans, a member of the city's Citizens' Infrastructure Oversight Commission.

The commission on Tuesday presented a report to the City Council outlining the five-year cost to bring Orinda's road network — among the worst in the Bay Area — and storm drains up to par.

The council's job now is to figure out which funding options can best accomplish this, then determine the public's appetite for them.

Road conditions are measured on a scale of zero to 100 by a system called the "pavement condition index," or PCI. Roads that score above 90 are considered "excellent," and roads that score 25 or below are considered "failed." Orinda's road network currently rates 46, or "poor."

An infusion of $73 million over the next five years would bring Orinda's entire road network to 85, or "very good," the commission said. That would include money for storm drain repair, which would coincide with road repair.

The commission recommended this option because "it meets our driving principle of maximum benefit for the maximum people," said Sandy Roadcap, chair of the commission.

If the city can't fix all the roads, it should use that same principle to prioritize arterial roads, like Moraga Way, and collector roads, like Orinda Way, the commission said.

Investing between $31 million and $38 million over the next five years would repair all of the arterials and collectors, but the residential network would only improve marginally, if at all.

The city could also spend $16 million to improve only arterials and collectors or simply maintain the status quo, but overall road conditions would continue to deteriorate under both those options, the commission said.

All of the options include yearly maintenance costs of more than $2 million. With much of what has gone to road repair in recent years being one-time money like grants, council members wondered whether that level of annual funding is realistic.

"The city has never had that kind of money, and these types of measures would have to build that in to even have a chance of having $2 million annually for maintenance," said Councilman Steven Glazer.

Last month, the Revenue Enhancement Task Force recommended new funding sources that could pay for road and storm drain repair. Those sources included a utility users tax, a property transfer tax, a parcel tax and a general obligation bond.

The council cautiously agreed to move forward with a poll of city residents to determine which taxes they would be willing to support. That poll could be conducted in late January or early February.

But the city shouldn't consider any infrastructure plan that doesn't include water pipes, said Orinda resident Steve Cohn, a member of Fire and Infrastructure Renewal, or FAIR. That group advocates studying the efficiency of the Moraga-Orinda Fire District.

Water pipes were not included in the commission's report because they are owned by East Bay MUD, not the city, Roadcap said. But Cohn said that with billions of dollars in real estate in a high fire danger area, the pipes should be studied.

"Just because we don't own them doesn't mean we just ignore them," he said.

FAIR members told the council they wish to present a plan they say will save the city $65 million over 12 years without raising taxes, but details of that plan have not been released.

Reach Jonathan Morales at 925-943-8048. Read the Lamorinda Sun blog at www.ibabuzz.com/lamorindasun.

By the numbers
Road condition is measured by a system known as the "pavement condition index," or PCI, which rates roads as excellent, very good, good, fair, poor, very poor or failed. Orinda's road network as a whole is rated as "poor."
The cost and results of the Citizens' Infrastructure Oversight Commission's recommendations vary widely:
  • $73 million: Would bring Orinda's road network to "very good."
  • $38 million: Would bring arterial and collector networks to "very good" and residential network to "good."
  • $31 million: Would bring arterial and collector networks to "very good." Residential network would increase to "fair."
  • $16 million: Would bring arterial and collector networks to "very good." Residential network would remain at "poor."
  • $11 million: Maintains historical spending levels. Orinda's road network would remain at "poor."
    Source: City of Orinda