Ask Paducah - Paducah's Network of Roads

As you drive across Paducah, think about the roadway under your tires.  Several questions may pop into your head such as who maintains the road?  Also, how does the City determine which roads need to be repaired first, and what is the best way to fix a pothole?  Roads are an economic lifeline, not just a convenience.  For this edition of Ask Paducah, City Engineer & Public Works Director Rick Murphy provides an overview of the roads in the city of Paducah.

The City of Paducah maintains how many miles of roadway?  The City of Paducah maintains 223 miles of roadway.  Since I think in the amount of roadway to be paved by considering the number of lanes, we actually have 446 lane-miles of roadway.  However, that number doesn’t take into account the alleys and the parking areas on the sides of some roads.

Rick Murphy

Which roads in Paducah are maintained by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet?   There is a misconception that if a road is within the city limits, then it is the responsibility of the City of Paducah government.  However, Paducah has several State routes which means the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is responsible for their condition.  The most highly traveled roads within the city that are the local government’s responsibility are Broadway and Jefferson Street.  In general, the roads that have higher traffic volumes than Broadway or Jefferson are State routes.  Some of the State routes are Kentucky Avenue, Irvin Cobb Drive, Park Avenue, Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Hinkleville Road, Old Mayfield Road, Lone Oak Road/Jackson Street, Cairo Road, HC Mathis Drive, Joe Clifton Drive, and sections of 8th and 13th Streets. 

Does the City of Paducah do maintenance for the State routes?  No, we don’t, but I keep in close contact with the State regarding any issue I see within the city limits.  The State has independent contractors that do some storm inlet cleaning and street sweeping on a quarterly basis or as often as maintenance funds allow them to work.  I do want to point out that regarding general maintenance such as keeping debris out of the curbs and gutters and drainage ways, there is a City of Paducah code (98-31) that places the responsibility on the adjacent property owner.  So that we can concentrate on the quality of the roadways, we need the help of our citizens to keep edges of roadways clean.  I encourage getting trash, leaves, and debris out of gutters and keeping weeds from growing up along the edge of the roadway and into curbs and gutters.  Weeds can end up breaking the pavement, reducing the lifespan of the road.

Sec. 98-31 - Duties of abutting property owners regarding maintenance within right-of-way.  The property owner shall be responsible for maintaining, in a clean and sanitary condition, the sidewalks, ditches, curbs and gutters, driveway pipes, drainage pipes and unpaved/undeveloped portion of rights-of-way abutting such premises, and for keeping the aforementioned in good repair.

There are several traffic signals in Paducah.  Who is responsible for them?  Most of the roads in Paducah with traffic signals are State routes with the signals being the State’s responsibility.  The City of Paducah is responsible for only 13 traffic signals including six traffic signals on Broadway (at 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 13th, and 21st Streets) and four on Jefferson Street (at 6th, 9th, 13th, and 17th Streets).  We also have the signals at 9th and Broad, New Holt Road and Village Square Drive, and James Sanders Boulevard and Pecan Drive.

Why do some streets have blue street signs instead of green ones?  I got the idea from Lexington to designate private roads with blue signs.  If a road is private, it is owned by one or more citizens, and they are responsible for its maintenance and rehabilitation.  I encourage folks who are moving to a location to ask their realtor, check the plat, or ask their title attorney about the status of their roadway.  We have had several citizens who bought property and didn’t realize they now live on a private road.  Usually we get calls after it snows because the City snow plows do not take care of private roads.  One of the main reasons why a road stays private is that a subdivision developer did not build the road to City standards.  Usually, the City will take over a roadway after the developer completes it to City standards.  If it is not to our standards, then it remains the responsibility of the developer or the adjacent property owners via a homeowners’ association (HOA).

What is the process for repairing a pothole?  Since potholes can show up anytime, the repair process depends upon the time of year.  If a pothole needs repairing between November and early April, we use an asphalt-based product called “cold mix.” It’s scooped into the pothole and packed down.  It’s not intended to be a permanent fix.  The goal of this product is to keep the pothole under control until warmer weather when it can be more thoroughly addressed.  We have all seen potholes repaired with cold mix that crumbles into tiny pieces just weeks later.  Once the asphalt plants open usually in early April, we can repair a pothole with hot mix.  We determine the limits of the roadway deterioration and cut out an area larger than the original pothole.  Then, we totally restore the area and use the hot mix, a more permanent solution. 

How much does the City of Paducah spend each year for road rehabilitation projects?  Paducah receives an allocation of funds from the Municipal Aid Program (MAP).  MAP funds are collected from the State gas tax and are allocated for maintenance, reconstruction, or construction of City streets.  Paducah’s allocation of State gas tax funds ranges around $400,000 to $600,000 a year.  The City also sets aside annually approximately $750,000 from the Investment Fund for the street resurfacing and sidewalk projects.  This sounds like a lot of money; however, I can say that in the past 20 years, milling costs and the price of asphalt have tripled.  Even though the reconstruction costs have tripled, the City’s budget has not increased at that rate.  Therefore, present day reconstruction dollars will rehabilitate approximately a third of the repairs that were being made a couple of decades ago.  Road rehabilitation is expensive.   

How does the Engineering-Public Works Department determine which roads are next in line for resurfacing?  My plan this year is to develop a comprehensive inventory of the current status of all streets including the curbs, gutters, and sidewalks.  This would be part of the City’s GIS database.  Once the information is available digitally, then we can do an even better job of planning and budgeting for street rehabilitation.  Until now, the Engineering-Public Works Department has been updating every few years a list of all the streets within the City of Paducah by driving them and giving them a ranking from 0 to 5 with 5 equaling a street in very good condition.  The evaluation considers the conditions of the pavement, curbs and gutters, and sidewalks.  Then each year, we choose a list of streets across Paducah for rehabilitation.  However, the streets are not chosen solely based upon a low ranking. We have to look at factors such as the budget, traffic impact, and utility work.  If utility work is scheduled for a particular road, the street rehabilitation will be postponed until the utility projects are completed.

For more information about the City of Paducah Engineering-Public Works Department, visit www.paducahky.gov.   

Do you have an idea for Ask Paducah? 

Contact Public Information Officer Pam Spencer at pspencer@paducahky.gov or 270-444-8669.

(Edition 13 – March 30, 2017)

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