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Street & Sidewalk Maintenance

Pothole Image

Our streets are an important part of the City's infrastructure.  They are our means of transport and connect us in multiple travel modes whether we walk, drive, bike, or ride public transit.  PWS is responsible for maintaining and ensuring our roads and rights of way are clean, safe, accessible and enjoyable.  The Street Maintenance Section is responsible for repairing all sidewalks, curbs and gutters, pavement areas in the public right of way. In addition, this Section is responsible for snow removal, pothole patching, guardrail, fence and barrier repairs, as well as bike path and trail repairs on request. The Street Maintenance Section places and programs variable message boards as part of the traffic management and control associated with it's activities, as well as for other City Departments. This Section also supports other City Departments with their construction activities.

Each year the Street Maintenance Section resurfaces approximately 22-25 lane miles of City streets using funds provided. Funding for this work is provided annually by the Virginia Department of Transportation based upon a formula that is derived from the total lane miles of paved roadway within the City of Alexandria. This funding also provides for concrete curb and gutter work, asphalt patching and localized repair and engineering studies. The State inspects the City streets, in conjunction with City inspectors, and directs which streets are to be repaired each year.

In addition, approximately 2,000 linear feet of brick and concrete sidewalk are repaired or replaced each year by the Street Maintenance Section along with some additional work supplemented by private contractors.


Potholes

What is a Pothole?
A pothole is a type of damage in the surface of the roadway where a portion of the road pavement has cracked and broken away, leaving a hole.

What Causes a Pothole?
Street pavement cracks and breaks because of water and traffic.  Water can get under the pavement through cracks or from the side of a road.  Over time, the water can cause the material under the pavement to erode, causing the pavement to sink and break.  During winter, the water under the pavement can freeze and expand, and then thaws and contracts. This freeze/thaw cycle can cause the pavement to crack causing rapid deterioration under the weight of traffic, resulting in potholes.  Another factor of the cause of potholes could be large volumes of traffic or heavy trucks and buses using a street not designed to support this load, this   can cause the pavement to crack and break apart.  

How Are Potholes Repaired?
During cold weather, permanent patching cannot occur.  Temporary patching is done using cold mix asphalt.  Cold mix is less expensive, easier to use and can be stockpiled.  This method can be performed in the most harsh of winter months and can be scheduled for permanent patching later in the year.  Permanent patching is used where a long lasting repair is required.  Often times, the road surface must be cut way, the road base replaced, and new hot mix asphalt installed.  The preferred months to perform permanent patching activities are from April to November due to hot mix asphalt temperature requirements and availability.  

Permanent Patch_200  ColdMix_200(1)

Potholes By the Numbers


Sidewalk Maintenance & Repair

The goal of PWS is to make the City's 320 miles of brick and concrete sidewalks safe for pedestrians and help prevent injuries caused by defective sidewalks.  PWS replaces and repairs more then 12,000 square feet of sidewalk a year. PWS focuses on requests received through Call.Click.Connect. and internal field observations by staff.  

Sidewalk requests are inspected to determine the proper remedy or solution for repair.  Any temporary or emergency repairs are typically made safe within 15 days.  Permanent resolution depends upon the findings of the investigation.  Many permanent repairs require a longer time frame and depend upon funding availability.  

Brick Work_1  pouring concert_2.2


Pavement Management & Condition Evaluation Program

Alexandria has over 560 lane miles of streets. The City of Alexandria, with financial assistance from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), manages its pavements by regularly assessing conditions, analyzing budget needs, performing routine maintenance (such as pothole repair) and undertaking minor and paving projects. Many of Alexandria's streets are in good condition, but there is a large and growing amount of deferred maintenance. Deferred maintenance is work that is postponed to a future budget cycle, or until funds are available. When maintenance is deferred, streets deteriorate to the point where repairs are more costly.

Paved roads – especially those with heavy truck traffic and in urban areas such as Alexandria – should be resurfaced every 8-12 years in order to maintain a good quality surface. Unfortunately, the City has very limited funds to spend on resurfacing City-owned roads. The Commonwealth of Virginia provides limited funding for roadway resurfacing based on a formula that is derived from the total lane miles of paved roadway within the city. This funding also provides for concrete curb and gutter work, asphalt patching and localized repair and engineering studies. The Commonwealth inspects City streets in conjunction with City inspectors and reviews the City's pavement management efforts.

Pavement Rating

The City's pavement maintenance efforts are based on field condition evaluations of pavement conditions utilizing the City's Pavement Management System. Pavement management systems are sets of tools or methods that can assist decision-makers in finding cost-effective strategies for providing, evaluating and maintaining pavement in serviceable condition. 

The pavement management system consists of two basic components:

  1. A comprehensive database which contains current and historical information on pavement conditions, pavement structure and traffic
  2. A set of tools that allows the City to determine existing and future pavement conditions, predict financial needs and identify and prioritize pavement preservation projects.

Based on field inspection data, objective pavement rating indices are calculated by the computer model. This establishes a baseline that allows the City to objectively evaluate the pavement condition of one roadway over another.

ConditionRating IndexDefinition
Good86-100Stable, no cracking, no patching and no deformation. Very good riding qualities.
Satisfactory71-85Stable, minor cracking, generally hairline and hard to detect. Minor patching and possibly some minor deformation evident. Dry or light colored appearance. Good riding qualities. Rutting less than ½".
Fair56-70Generally stable, minor areas of structural weakness evident. Cracking is easier to detect, patches evident. Cracking is easier to detect, patched but not excessively. Deformation more pronounced and easily noticed. Ride qualities are good to acceptable.
Poor41-55Areas of instability, marked evidence of structural deficiency, large crack patterns (alligatoring) heavy and numerous patches, deformation very noticeable. Riding qualities range from acceptable to poor.
Very Poor/Serious11-40Pavement in extremely deteriorated condition. Numerous areas of instability. Majority of section showing structural deficiency. Ride quality is poor.
Failed0-10Pavement structure failed. All of section showing severe structural deficiency.


The City evaluates the condition of Alexandria's streets and uses that and other information to establish priorities for street surface maintenance and rehabilitation. When selecting streets each year to be paved, staff considers:

  • pavement condition,
  • volume and type of traffic,
  • utility work planned for the street (we coordinate paving with underground utility work to minimize the opening of street pavement),
  • cost of the work, and
  • level of community interest

The City's proposed street maintenance list is typically posted in April. The map shows streets currently scheduled for resurfacing in the City of Alexandria street maintenance program. Hot-mix asphalt is used to resurface the streets in an ongoing program to bring old, substandard streets up to modern standards. The program begins in early April and continues through the beginning of October. A parking notice letter will be mailed to affected residents about 2-4 weeks in advance of the operation.

About Paving Operations

The program starts on approximately April 1st and concludes on or near October 15th. A parking notice letter will be mailed to affected residents about 2-4 weeks in advance of the operation and flyers are posted on residents' homes the week of the job. 

Hot-mix asphalt can be applied only in warm, dry weather. Unavoidably, there will be one day of delay for each day of rain. Temporary "NO PARKING" signs will be posted on your block displaying restrictive times and dates. The street will then be milled (the top layer of the street will be removed), utilities adjusted, and the signs removed. 

Within a two week period the Temporary "NO PARKING" signs will again be posted displaying times and dates your street will be overlaid with approximately 2 inches of hot-mix asphalt. The signs will be removed after the work is completed. Vehicles parked on the street in work areas will be towed! 

In certain locations – typically higher volume roadways – the City may conduct nighttime paving operations. Nighttime operations can significantly reduce or eliminate traffic congestion and delays associated with daytime operations. Elimination of traffic delays/idling leads to air quality improvements and lower fuel consumption. Although there is a perception that night work zones are less safe than daytime work zones, evidence to substantiate this perception, such as higher accident rates, is not available because of a lack of accurate traffic exposure data. There is also no difference in productivity levels between daytime and nighttime operations. In fact, nighttime operations often allows higher productivity levels because of less interference from traffic and longer working hours.

How You Can Help!

Residents can help completion of the resurfacing project by:

  • Parking vehicles off the street until the new surface is dry... usually 4-6 hours dry weather (if you need to drive your car often, consider parking it on a nearby street);
  • Refraining from raking grass, leaves or other debris into the street;
  • Protecting children from equipment and paving materials for their safety.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I expect while my road is being resurfaced?

  1. You should received advance notification, either by project signs displayed in advance of the work, or fliers passed out on your door.
  2. Hours of work will be between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., unless otherwise specified (see night work details below).
  3. No Parking signs will be posted in advance of the work.  Please be sure to observe these signs to avoid tickets and potential vehicle relocation.
  4. During paving hours, access to the street will be limited, however we have directed the contractor to allow for local traffic to pass through for driveway access.
  5. Heavy equipment will be used which may be noisy during the process.
  6. At the end of each work day, roads will be fully open to allow for overnight parking and traffic.
  7. City staff will be on site managing the project.
  8. At the end of the project the contractor will be directed to clean up any loose millings or asphalt from intersections, driveway aprons, and sidewalks.

My road is in bad condition. How often does the City resurface roads?
Paved roads – especially those with heavy truck traffic and in urban areas such as Alexandria – should be resurfaced every 8-12 years in order to maintain a good quality surface. Unfortunately, the City has very limited funds to spend on resurfacing City-owned roads. The Commonwealth of Virginia provides limited funding for roadway resurfacing based on a formula that is derived from the total lane miles of paved roadway within the city. Under current funding levels, roads are being resurfaced on a schedule closer to every 25 years. This situation will not change unless additional funding becomes available.

How many miles of road are resurfaced each year?
Because paved roads– especially those with heavy truck traffic and in urban areas such as Alexandria – should be resurfaced every 8-12 years in order to maintain a good quality surface, it is the City's goal to resurface 10% (or approximately 50 miles) of the City's lane miles each year. Unfortunately, due to limited funding, this is not possible and the City typically resurfaces between 15 and 20 miles of lane miles annually.

How does the City decide which roads (lane miles) should be resurfaced first?
The City's pavement maintenance efforts are based on field condition evaluations of pavement conditions utilizing the City's Pavement Management System. Pavement management systems are sets of tools or methods that can assist decision-makers in finding cost-effective strategies for providing, evaluating and maintaining pavement in serviceable condition.

The pavement management system consists of two basic components:

  1. A comprehensive database which contains current and historical information on pavement conditions, pavement structure and traffic
  2. A set of tools that allows the City to determine existing and future pavement conditions, predict financial needs and identify and prioritize pavement preservation projects.

Based on field inspection data, objective pavement rating indices are calculated by the computer model. This establishes a baseline that allows the City to objectively evaluate the pavement condition of one roadway over another.

How is the program funded?
The current City budget for street resurfacing is $4.4 million, with another $600,000 for pothole patching. Each resurfaced lane mile may cost as much as $95,000 depending on the constantly fluctuating costs of petroleum, scope of necessary repairs and other considerations. The City receives reimbursement from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) through the Local Maintenance Program for a portion of this funding.

Why were nearby streets recently resurfaced but my road was not included?
The City conducted a comprehensive assessment of pavement conditions in 2013. Since then, the City has used the resulting data to better inform the paving program priorities and make optimal use of the available funds. Paving activity has since been focused on streets labeled "serious," "very poor," and "poor" and these streets are typically spread out across the City. The City focuses its limited maintenance funds on streets that are in most need. It is recommended that an updated assessment occur every 3-5 years to continue to optimize use of limited maintenance funds.

Why does the City conduct some paving operations at night?
Nighttime operations can significantly reduce or eliminate traffic congestion and delays associated with daytime operations. Elimination of traffic delays/idling leads to air quality improvements and lower fuel consumption. Although there is a perception that night work zones are less safe than daytime work zones, evidence to substantiate this perception, such as higher accident rates, is not available because of a lack of accurate traffic exposure data. There is also no difference in productivity levels between daytime and nighttime operations. In fact, nighttime operations often allows higher productivity levels because of less interference from traffic and longer working hours.

How do I find out when my street is scheduled for resurfacing?
The City's proposed street maintenance list is typically posted in April.

Additional Questions
The Department of Transportation & Environmental Services will minimize inconvenience to residents on the block as much as possible. However, if you have questions or problems about the project, please call T&ES Operations at 703.746.4357 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekdays.