consultants are sandburs

Saturday, June 28, 2014

RAMSEY - After a short loop walk, thoughts arose of road upkeep and franchise fees.

This image shows the route I walked, with corners labeled in sequence, from A to K, completing the loop.

Enlarge, note letter labels, and route dotting.

Segment A-B (and on return K-A) is 154th Lane NW, where I live; A being, roughly, home.

Segment D-E is Ramsey Blvd. which was recently reconstructed, by Anoka County, without assessment of abutting property owners. The improvement is great, and we in Ramsey should all be happy it was a county priority for the year.

Segment F-G was the only stretch of the walk where, to my unskilled non-civil engineering eye, the road appeared worse for wear and neglect.

Except for stretches of county roads, (Ramsey Blvd, and Nowthen Blvd.) traffic evidencing cause for wear and tear beyond weathering effects was absent, mid-day, on a Saturday when people are home more than in the Cities on weekdays, at work.

With segment F-G looking as it did, it was curious to see the Segment "I" road, less than or about 10 years old, had been seal coated (with grey gravel atop the tar layer), suggesting there is gapping in planning which roads get which services, and if that is not assessed but from general funds, there is some inequity.

Bottom line, 154th Lane NW as an example, homes were built mid-1970's - roughly - with dirt road status lasting roughly into the mid-1980's when many Ramsey roads were first tarred. Most wear and tear traffic is garbage trucks, once a week. 154th Lane NW seems to be good for another 5-15 years or more, after a recent sealcoating, and presuming in that time range another sealcoat; meaning it is part of the road grid not at all in decrepit condition.

 Calendar-gazing alone will not show differences in road bed quality, hence, projecting costs into the next five to ten years without somewhat extensive boots on the ground reconnaissance can be both unwise and misleading.

E.g., if my "home road" is representative vs unique, with representative being the appearance I infer from walking regularly upon different routes; then projected costs being suggested as requiring franchise fee income of a bit less than two million dollars a year could be tainted by substantial overestimation error.

Inferences from bad or insufficient data will, themselves, be unreliable for setting policy. Methodology matters.

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