Hey, You, Get Off of My Road

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Placentia has had it with utilities digging up its streets within weeks after expensive road construction or repaving projects are completed.

The City Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night that’s intended to force utilities, phone and cable companies to plan ahead when they need to go under roadways to install new equipment or rearrange what already is there.

Cities throughout Orange County, including Placentia, for years have required permits for companies to dig into city streets, but the new resolution is intended to bring all of the regulations into one section of the city code and bar city staff from issuing permits to excavate newly built or repaired highways.

It isn’t just that streets become an unsightly series of rough bumps and dips after they are dug up. Poorly planned street work costs cities serious money.

“The lifespan of a newly resurfaced street that is cut or opened can be reduced by as much as 50 (percent) and will begin deteriorating at a much faster rate than pavement that has not been compromised,” said a report from the city’s Public Works Department to council members.

To repave all 4,858 miles of Placentia’s streets would cost $278 million, according to a 2008 estimate.

Therefore, the resolution adopted by the council bars the city from allowing newly built or improved streets from being dug up for 36 months and those that received a new slurry seal for 24 months.

Exceptions can be made for emergencies, like fixing a broken water main, said Placentia Public Works Director Steve Drinovsky before the meeting.

He said the city knows and publicly announces what street work is planned and financed for a year ahead. In addition, proposals for street improvements are made seven years in advance, so there is no reason a utility, phone or cable company should be caught by surprise.

In addition, the city will meet with all utilities and services each quarter to go over plans for upcoming roadwork.

From now on, said Drinovsky, companies that want to dig up Placentia’s smooth streets will “have to prove it is absolutely necessary.”




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