MORAGA -- Although 70.5 percent of Moraga residents voted to support 2012's Measure K, which raised the local sales tax rate by 1 percent for 20 years, using the funds continues to have residents lining up on either side of the decision.
At the first of two Public Works Department town halls July 24, most residents expressed enthusiasm as the $3.3 million Phase II construction period commenced. A minority objected to the $7.7 million in Measure K-related funds, leveraged with bonds after the election, going to the three-year residential road repair project.
"When we voted for Measure K, it wasn't clear to us that it was just for cars," said 31-year Woodside Road resident Ferenc Kovac. "It was for trails and bike lanes, which are just being ignored. We talked about those plans, so what about them?"
At the town hall, Kovac directed that and similar questions to Edric Kwan, Public Works director and town engineer, and Mary Erchul, the project manager from Ghirardelli Associates.
Kwan explained that the revenue from Measure K, estimated to produce more than $900,000 per year for 20 years, is directed into the town's general fund and spent at the discretion of the Town Council. With considerable support from groups like "Yes on K" and expressed during public comments at town meetings, the council used a bond option to obtain up-front funding and designated it for pavement repair and road reconstruction.
"What has been dictated to me as policy from Town Council is residential streets," Kwan said. "Technically, Measure K funds can be spent on anything. But the leveraged funding we obtained is restricted to just residential streets."
In 2013, Phase I involved patching, rubberizing and micro-surfacing streets with less than severe deterioration. Phase II is addressing 28 roads rated "poor," and includes base, curb and gutter repairs, making curbs ADA-compliant, milling (scraping) to accommodate the hot asphalt overlay, raising utilities as necessary, and traffic striping.
Kwan said noticesto residents their streets were first to be serviced were likely to go out this week, with work starting two weeks later. Construction is projected to be completed by November. Phase III in 2015 will focus on reconstruction of "very poor" or "failed" streets.
"Why are we starting with the good streets?" Kwan asked. "If you address a street in good condition, it's one dollar per square yard."
He showed that roads rated lower cost $25, $42 and $80 per square foot. "If you wait, the better streets get more and more expensive (to repair)."
Kwan and Erchul outlined the project -- partial lane closures in early stages, complete road closures during milling and overlay stages, and an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekday, no holiday work schedule. They offered a number of ways for residents to stay informed.
To keep residents informed, there is a door-to-door campaign, town halls and lawn signs, and a three-week construction "look ahead" that will be upated weekly and posted on the town website at http://www.moraga.ca.us/paving, Kwan said.
Links on that page will allow people to view daily construction plans on Facebook, check the paving schedule, see a map and street list, and get proejct details.
Erchul said she will be available daily, and encouraged people to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, caller her at 949-528-5731, or follow her as she "tweets and walks the streets" at twitter.com/MoragaMeasureK.
Forty-six years of living on Rimer Drive has led Virginia Sornsen to believe that Moraga roads "desperately needed" Measure K.
"We have homes that are worth a lot of money," she said. "We don't want roads with severe potholes and patching."
Larch Avenue resident Judy Cooper said she felt "absolutely" informed about the project.
"The roads are in bad shape and they're only going to get worse," she said. "I don't want to end up like Orinda."
In 2012, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission rated the condition of Orinda roads fifth-lowest among all Bay Area cities and counties with 53 percent of the roads rated "poor" or "failed."
Kovac, dissatisfied with the emphasis on residential roads and concerned about the safety of high school cross-country runners and the biking public, referred to early descriptions of Measure K.
Paraphrasing information on the town website that reads, "Measure K could also be used to provide funds for basic services for residents, such as public safety, youth and senior services, and park maintenance," he said he might have to resume attending Town Council meetings.
Kwan said town councils could designate different applications for Measure K funds in the future, but until that time, residential streets are receiving a long-overdue upgrade.