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Broken Roads Follow-up: Chairman of council committee addresses system issues

Posted at 6:34 PM, Aug 04, 2016

We continue to dig into why the local streets resurfacing system in Cleveland has so many problems.

The chairman of the city council committee that oversees street repaving in Cleveland talked to us Thursday about that system.

Our recent investigation found several city leaders got newly paved roads when there are thousands in worse shape according to a pavement condition study.

We asked Chairman Ken Johnson about how Cleveland has gotten to this point, the 2009 study rating thousands of roads and the streets of city leaders.

"Does it make sense to have 4 or 5 city leaders with their streets done while you have thousands of others in D’s & F's?” we asked.

“Let me explain how that actually happens,” said Johnson. The chairman told us some councilmen had money stored up for streets before a recent rule said they have to spend their street budgets in the same year.  Johnson said they had to spend the money and that's why their streets were done.

"But they're choosing to spend it on their streets rather than some of their constituents streets,” we pointed out.

“Well, that I don't know. I have no idea because I don't keep up with that,” said Johnson.

We asked, “Is that something as the chairman maybe you should keep up with?”

“I don't think so, because they're elected just like I am and if they think their street is worse than any other than who am I to judge that?"

Again, he's the chairman.

He also told us there's a new system to understand utility needs prior to paving. He said they haven't had that before and it’s led to paving and repaving in a short amount of time.

"You do a street, but then they have to come back a year later, two years later?” we asked.

“Yes, and that has happened to me several times,” Johnson replied.

So, for as long as the city has been paving streets and had indoor plumbing, plans for utility work ahead of time wasn't known?

"We didn't have that before?” we inquired.

“No,” said Johnson.

The chairman told us with the new street pavement condition study that comes out next month he will sit down, go over it and go out to the streets to inspect the accuracy.

"That sitting down and looking at the list and going around and checking it, that never happened with the original 2009 study?” we asked.

“No. No. That never happened."

That 2009 study cost $470,000. The new pavement condition study cost the city $600,000.