Wilton has gone hi-tech to figure out which town roads are most in need of repaving and repair. Now, following a digital scan conducted this past June on all 130 miles of town roads, officials are better equipped to see which roads need attention–stat!–and have shared the information online so residents can easily access it.

Officials turned to a company called Street Scan to help better understand the condition of each town road and prioritize how Wilton spends its road paving budget. Street Scan vehicles equipped with digital sensors drive along all of the roads in town measuring cracks and condition of the pavement. The company then rates the roads on a Pavement Condition Index (PCI), from ‘good’ to ‘definitely need attention.’

Previously, decisions on which 15 miles of roads to pave each year and when to pave them were through town employees’ subjective assessment. “We never really had knowledge of exactly what was happening underneath that road,” said First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice.

In a presentation at last week’s Board of Selectmen meeting, town engineer Frank Smeriglio explained the results of the recent scan. He showed a map prepared by Street Scan of all the roads in Wilton, color-coded by pavement condition. Roads in the yellow, red and orange categories need more attention, he said. Editor’s note:  Smeriglio noted that some town roads have been paved since this map was produced, so some of the roads that appear to need attention have already been repaved.

With the information collected, the town can now plan in a more efficient way.

“There are a lot of yellows, oranges and red [classified roads] that need attention. As you pick your 15 miles a year, you focus on the yellows, orange and reds …to prioritize,” Smeriglio said. But he also explained that planning involves consideration of proximity. “You have to group the roads together; you can’t just say, ‘Do all the red roads because they’re scattered around town.”

Street Scan only assessed town-owned roads; Smeriglio said the CT Department of Transportation has its own road scanning software to evaluate state roads.

Smeriglio’s presentation offered the snapshot of Wilton’s roads as of June 1, and showed the majority (85.9%) of Wilton’s roads are in good to satisfactory condition, with an average PCI of 77. According to Street Scan, only 0.1 mile is classified as dark red, or ‘serious’; 3.4 miles are classified as red, or ‘very poor’ [with 1.64 of those miles paved since June 1]; 14.8 miles are classified as orange, or ‘poor’ [with 2.51 of those miles paved since June 1]; and 28.5 miles are classified as yellow, or ‘fair’ [with .95 of those miles paved since June 1].

Vanderslice said she calculated the percentages taking into account roads that were paved after June 1, and found 68% of Wilton roads are in the light green (good) and dark green (excellent) categories.

Smeriglio told the selectmen that to address all the roads classified as red, orange and yellow, and bring the overall average road PCI score to 85–the top of the range for ‘good’–would cost the town $13,433,112.

In a comment emailed to GMW following the meeting, Vanderslice explained that the town is on track to complete the town’s goals for paving 15 miles of town roads each year of a five-year plan.

“Included in the $13,433,112 is $200,000 for sealing cracks, so the paving amount is $13,233,112. As of June 1, the total of the unspent funds that have been approved through this fiscal year and those that are in the bonding and operating forecast for the remaining two years of paving 15 miles per year is $13,500,000. Therefore we are on target to meet the 85 score, meaning the increase in paving to 15 miles per year for 5 years which we began in FY2018 is on target to successfully meet the road condition goal of the plan.”

Smeriglio showed the selectmen a map showing the roads which Street Scan proposes Wilton address. He explained that, to ensure maximum efficiency, the town paves roads or road sections in clusters, and clusters could include one or more poor roads and an adjacent fair road on the verge of becoming poor. 

Chris Burney, Wilton’s director of public works, explained how the program provides a consistent ability to measure the roads and not simply “rely on somebody’s feeling.”

“It’s just going to make us more accountable and better stewards of our resources,” he said.

Information Online for Residents

Officials in the Department of Public Works have integrated the data collected with the town’s paving program. The town has provided information collected by Street Scan for residents to view on the town website, including:

  • A list, as of Sept. 12, of town-owned roads and road sections that have not been assigned for paving, ranked by pavement condition index (PCI) from lowest to highest.
  • An alphabetical list, as of Sept. 12, of town-owned roads and road sections, that have not been assigned for paving, with their pavement condition index.
  • A color-coded Wilton map as of Sept. 12. Town-owned roads are color coded, as defined on the map. State roads, which were not scanned, are in blue. Vanderslice told GMW that most of the poor roads (red) will be paved by the end of 2019.
  • Smeriglio’s PowerPoint presentation from the Sept. 9 BOS meeting. [Editor’s note:  that presentation was based on the pavement condition index as of the June 1 scanning; additional roads have been paved since then and are reflected in the updated Sept. 12 map and lists.]

The town is also changing the way it will present the annual paving program information to residents, to make it easier for residents to understand. Information will be listed on a calendar year basis, rather than a fiscal year basis. “In other words, if we are referring to the 2019 paving program, that means the roads paved or to be paved in calendar year 2019,” Vanderslice told GMW.

One reply on “Wilton’s New, Hi-Tech Approach to Repave Town Roads”

  1. Dear Editor;
    Today’s article on the new hi-tech method of determining which roads to repair first left out two important details. In the first you tell us that the decision of which roads to repair and resurface has been left to our town employees’ judgement. Then you say, ” ‘We never really had knowledge of exactly what was happening underneath that road,’ said First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice.” The implication is that this new technology can actually glean information below the surface, but it is never stated nor looked into by the reporter. Since this, if true, would be a rather big deal, I think we’d all like to know more.

    The other missing bit is how much the use of this new tech costs. This is important to know as we are actually borrowing money to maintain our roads, that is, we are putting future residents out on a limb to maintain what, through mismanagement, we should have been taking care of all along, not through bonding (borrowing), but through our ordinary maintenance budgets. The bonding of this type of expense is a risky game of catchup, and adding more to the costs would also be something about which I think we’d all like to know more.

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