Cleveland officials still lacking answers about errors in $600,000 roads study

News 5 presses City of Cleveland for answers
Posted at 3:59 PM, May 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 17:40:02-04

As the season for resurfacing streets in Cleveland begins, On Your Side Investigators continue to press city officials about their strategy for repairing your roads.

But the city is still lacking answers to critical questions that would impact whether or not certain streets get fixed. 

Resurfacing plans

Mayor Frank Jackson announced Wednesday during a news conference that 95 streets will be resurfaced this year thanks in part to the income tax increase, or Issue 32. Of those 95 streets, 83 will be residential roads in neighborhoods. 

Since 2014, the city spent $227 million in resurfacing, Jackson said. He also said the city plans to spend $12 million on fixing residential streets this year -- an increase from the $10.5 million spent last year. 

"We are in a concentrated effort to improve our infrastructure, particularly our roads, bridges and streets," Jackson said.

A debunked study

But this comes after News 5 debunked the city's newest pavement management study that graded the city's streets and will ultimately help determine which roads to fix. In February, we uncovered many errors in the datacompiled by engineering firm Michael Baker International -- both before and after the study was finalized.

The city paid $600,000 for Michael Baker to survey and grade the streets from 2015 to 2016.

Jackson said the city is using the new study as a guide and that the worst streets will receive priority for fixing. 

But one of the streets being resurfaced this year is East 102nd Street, which we found has two segments graded ‘D’ by the study. According to the study, nearly 1,000 street segments in the city are graded an 'F.' 

When News 5 asked if the ‘F’ streets will be resurfaced, Jackson replied, “The ‘F’ streets are what we intend to do.”

An On Your Side investigation in August uncovered that wasn’t the case in the past.

“Well in the past, as I said, there was a different process,” Jackson said. “You’re right.”

Mayor Jackson's response

News 5 notified Jackson of the errors we uncovered in the city's new study. This included inaccuracies in the grading system that we found quickly when we hit the streets and spot-checked a sample of the data. 

"These were the first ones we even came across," On Your Side Investigator Jonathan Walsh told Jackson. "We didn't even search." 

"Well, maybe you should search a little bit more and you might find more," Jackson said. "And then you can give it to them and then I'll handle it."

In addition, later at the news conference Jackson told News 5, "We appreciate if you give us information and then we'll follow up on it." But News 5 has attempted to provide our findings to the Mayor's Office repeatedly and has not received a response in months.

What streets are eligible?

According to Michael Baker's study, a list of suggested eligible streets for resurfacing was provided to the city. The Mayor's Office has not yet released that information despite our requests.

When News 5 asked Michael Cox, director of public works, how the streets set for resurfacing this year compare to Michael Baker's suggested list, he said there may be a "little" difference. 

We asked Cox to clarify his response. He replied, "Heaven only knows...the machine picks up what it picks up and what I do know is that there's nothing better than on-site, and we do that." 

"So you're not disappointed with some of the mistakes that [Michael] Baker has presented?" On Your Side Investigator Jonathan Walsh asked. 

"No sir. No sir," Cox said. "Nothing's perfect."

News 5 requested the list of all streets that will be resurfaced this year, but city officials said that it is still in the process of being finalized and should be completed by May 12.

We need your help to put the city's new roads study to the test. We've plotted 10,000-plus Cleveland street segments and their grades on a map. Tell us: Is the city accurate? What grade would you give your street? Click here for our interactive map.