FAIRFIELD — Fairfield’s new, four-person road crew came to Heron Court to get rid of some potholes, a sight that had become rare in recent years but should soon be commonplace.
“This is like Christmas,” said Patrice Batts, who lives in the cul-de-sac.
Batts had put up with a pothole in front of her house for five years. She’s had to drive very slowly in and out of her driveway to minimize the jarring. The pothole grew to be several feet wide and look like a crater with loose rock on top.
Her 3-year-old son fell on another rough patch in the street while using a toy in the cul-de-sac. Batts said he had to go to the hospital emergency room.
Batts has had plenty of company in facing potholes. Older, residential neighborhoods throughout the city have seen potholes go unrepaired for the past few years.
Fairfield faced major budget problems in the wake of the Great Recession. Survival, not potholes, was the big topic at City Council meetings. The city decided to use dwindling public works money to maintain only the streets that handled the most traffic, not lightly traveled residential streets such as Heron Court.
City voters in November 2012 passed Measure P, a 1 percent sales tax increase to stabilize the city budget. Potholes once again became a problem to solve, not put up with.
Fairfield launched its four-person street spot repair crew in March. The city is doing the very worst potholes first, progressively stemming the tide, Public Works Director George Hicks said.
“That’s a continuous, ongoing operation for the older, core area,” Hicks said.
The repair crew will have plenty to keep it busy.
“We have about 350 to 400 of these around town,” city Streets and Utilities Manager George Shimboff said as he stood near the Heron Court potholes.
Also this summer, Fairfield will do $2.8 million worth of seal coating in Cordelia Villages, Green Valley Estates and Rancho Solano. Rancho Solano will pay for the work done on the private streets.
Putting a seal coat on a street is like painting a house, Hicks said. This thin asphalt emulsion treatment wards off weathering and deterioration.
“It will look like new, in terms of surface,” Hicks said.
Maintaining Fairfield roads at ideal levels would cost $13 million annually. The city in recent years spent $1 million to $2 million annually, Hicks said. Measure P will provide an additional $7 million over its five-year life for street maintenance.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.