City of Cleveland re-evaluates streets for paving, claims process is a 'science'

Posted at 6:55 AM, Dec 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-18 06:56:33-05

As part of our ongoing investigation "Broken Roads, Broken System", we showed you how 5 On Your Side Investigators had been denied interviews with the City of Cleveland about streets that are in good condition getting repaved anyway.

We tracked down Mayor Frank Jackson asking him questions until he finally said he would make someone available.


News 5 accepts Cleveland mayor's challenge, finds more bad ratings in flawed $600,000 roads report

Cleveland residents wonder why streets in good condition are getting repaved this summer

"We want our residents to be satisfied with the work that we do,” said Cleveland's Chief Operating Officer Darnell Brown.

We asked him about our past interviews with people who don't understand why their streets that are in good shape are still getting paved over.

"We've had numerous residents question the selection of the streets. What would you say to those residents?” we posed to Chief Brown.

"This is not a methodology that we created. It is a generally accepted practice in the industry," he replied.

The city has upped its game on neighborhood streets. A few years ago, the city budgeted $4.4 million a year for repaving. This year it’s been $12 million.

"There are a lot of F streets out there,” said Chief Brown.

“And you're doing some (D-rated streets). You're doing some C’s,” we pointed out.

“Well, again, everything we do...if it starts out as an F, we are going out and rating the street," said Chief Brown.

You see, there was a big study done by engineering firm Baker International that rated the streets' conditions. The city claims its worst-first strategy put F streets at the top.  If city council wants to do different streets than those suggested by the administration, city crews reevaluate council's roads claiming they make sure those streets are F-rated, as well. Our investigation has shown otherwise in many instances.

"It's a scientific approach. I trust the science," said Chief Brown.

5 On Your Side Investigators made a public records request back in July of this year to obtain documents showing the new ratings that city crews have given streets.

Chief Brown told us it's normal for a street to deteriorate 3-5 points in one year and 6-10 points in 2 years.

After our records request was finally fulfilled months later, we found re-ratings include one street that dropped 16 points in Ward 12 and another fell 17.5 points in Ward 14. The biggest differences, though, came in Ward 3 with drops of 13.5, 19, and even 20 points.

"There are several examples that it goes beyond that 6-10 point range,” we pointed out to Chief Brown.

“And I would be concerned about that, but, again, in general, as I said this is a science,” he replied.

5 On Your Side Investigators have proven time and time again, there are big problems with the $600,000 original streets study released this year, but Chief Brown insists the city is on track.

“When we are doing it, the stressors we're looking at, (the street has) got to be an F. We don't make exceptions."

"The information that we've provided, does that help you re-evaluate some of the training or issues that constituents are bringing us?” we asked.

“Let me tell you this,” said Chief Brown. “Anytime somebody brings something to our attention, yeah, we're going to look at it."