The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Committee hopes to hire surveyors


May 26, 2019

CLOVIS — Come this fall, you may notice a few new faces around town surveying Clovis’ roads in search of repair needs.

But in all honestly, you probably won’t notice.

The Clovis Public Works Committee took in a presentation from Pittsburgh-based RoadBotics during its Wednesday meeting, and seemed impressed with the process and potential benefits.

Established in December 2016, RoadBotics has delivered road assessments to 75 municipalities and has worked with 20 different states and 10 different countries.

Brian Felker, director of sales, gave a presentation by showing the data collection process from an assignment in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The 90-day process starts with a municipality providing RoadBotics with a map, which Clovis staff could provide in a matter of minutes with its geographic information system (GIS) software. RoadBotics then calculates the total mileage and plans a trip for a few survey drivers.

Those surveyors rent vehicles, mount a smartphone in the cabin and drive the municipality’s streets. The phone, running RoadBotics’ proprietary app, photographs every 10 feet of roadway. The company’s software analyzes every photo and identifies the road segment’s overall condition and any distresses. The segmenting is helpful, Felker said, because a road may be great on balance but have a glaring problem for 20 or 30 feet.

The software primarily analyzes concrete and asphalt, and distinguishes between each, with Felker adding, “It’s been trained to tell the difference between a concrete joint and a crack.”

The software doesn’t evaluate brick, dirt or gravel roads, Felker said, but most clients want those roads included in the survey for data collection purposes.

Public Works Director Clint Bunch said he’s hopeful to have RoadBotics’ services included in the 2019-20 city budget. The information the surveys would provide, he said, would save staff time and help prioritize road repairs.

“We’d know what ones need to be patched, and what ones need to be chip-sealed,” Bunch said. “When somebody calls me about a road, I could assess the problem from my desk in most cases.”

Felker said having the photographs has proven useful to municipalities for inventory or sometimes for prioritizing projects based on how many driveways are in a neighborhood.

In one instance, Felker said, a city saved itself a legal battle. A resident complained to the city a construction project damaged his driveway, but thanks to the survey the city had a time-stamped photo showing his driveway was damaged prior to construction.

Bunch felt the outside assessment would be the biggest benefit.

“Every commissioner here has a road in their district they think needs work,” Bunch said. “We may have to tell you that street is better off than others. It takes out the subjectivity.”

RoadBotics charges $90 per mile — a $24,300 expense based on in-meeting estimates of 270 miles of city roads. Bunch asked if the city could piggyback off of other New Mexico contracts because any expense over $20,000 would require a sealed bid process.

Felker said Clovis would be RoadBotics’ first New Mexico client, but said multi-year agreements would kick in discounts that could take Clovis below the $20,000 price point. Bunch said he could put that expense into the upcoming 2019-20 budget, but ensuing years would be the city commission’s decision every year.

In other business before the committee:

• Bunch asked each of the commissioners on the committee — Ladona Clayton in District 1, Gary Elliott in District 2, Fidel Madrid in District 3 and Public Works Committee Chair Chris Bryant in District 4 — to give him a list of roads in their districts that needed paving improvements.

• Bunch said speed flashers have been installed at Clovis Christian Schools and on Echols Avenue, with the first to be functional next school year and the latter operating now. Madrid said he’s driven by the Echols flashers already and has seen motorists slow down each time.

A recent city application, Bunch said, was made to the New Mexico Department of Transportation to fund a roundabout at Humphrey and N.M. 523 just north of the CCS campus. Clayton, superintendent for CCS, said she looked back at board meetings and confirmed the board approved an easement for a roundabout in August 2017.

• Madrid asked Bunch if it would be possible to raise the speed limit on Seventh Street, noting motorists rarely stay under the posted 35 mph limit.

“If you drive 35,” Madrid said, “they’ll leave you standing still.”

Bunch had no issue with Madrid’s assessment and said since traffic flow is a criteria for establishing a speed limit, a change would be at least worth a look.

• Regarding BNSF Railways plans to put a third rail line in the city, Bunch said staff is trying to reroute a few sewer lines in the installation area. He said he’s had conversations with BNSF, warning that if a third line is added at Mabry and Norris the portion of Norris between the tracks and Mabry for vehicles would shrink.

“A truck will not be able to sit in that area,” Bunch said. “They’ll be sitting in the roadway.”

• Clovis Municipal Schools Operations Director John King reviewed upcoming projects for CMS, and started by saying plans are to move into the new Highland Elementary in July for a fall opening.

King said the district planned to do plumbing and heating/air conditioning work at Barry Elementary, but the school moved up the state priority list and could now qualify for Public Schools Finance Authority dollars. If approved, King said, the school would be eligible for other needed work for about what CMS would pay for plumbing and heating/air work alone.

Work on parking lots for Cameo and Mesa elementaries should begin by the end of May, and requests for proposals are out for abatement and demolition of the old Parkview Elementary.

n The next meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. June 26 at City Hall.


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