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Borgeas proves wrangling over roads still a key part of nuts-and-bolts politics

Fresno County

Borgeas proves wrangling over roads still a key part of nuts-and-bolts politics

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Asphalt is darn close to being a politician’s best friend.

Andreas Borgeas was kind enough to remind me of that basic lesson in real world democracy.

When I say asphalt, I’m talking about all the stuff that goes into repairing our streets. Fresnans love their cars. Fresnans love smooth driving. Fresnans think too many of our streets are crumbling.

Fresnans are right.

That’s why the City Council loves to give the green light to big street-repair projects.

Such was the case on June 15 when the council on a 7-0 vote awarded a $1.76 million contract to Emmett’s Excavation of Fresno to do what’s being called the “Bullard Avenue Overlay.”

Here is the executive summary from the Public Works Department’s staff report: “The Bullard Avenue Overlay-Marks Avenue to Blackstone Avenue project will overlay and slurry seal portions of Bullard Avenue in order to extend the life of this heavily used arterial. The project will also bring curb ramps up to current standards and achieve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Funding for the project is coming from a Federal transportation grant, Fresno County road funds, General Fund dollars and Measure C Street Maintenance funds. Awarding of the contract will allow for the majority of the work to be completed during Summer 2017.”

The staff reports adds that City Hall and Fresno County reached an agreement last October on how to share project costs. Some portions of this stretch of Bullard are in the city while other portions are in the county.

The $1.76 million is the city’s share. The project’s total cost is pegged at $2.14 million.

The work begins today (July 5) and should go into mid-August.

Bullard between Blackstone and Marks is in Northwest Fresno. Council Member Steve Brandau, who represents the area, moved to approve the Emmett’s Excavation contract. Council Member Oliver Baines provided the second.

I live in this neck of the woods. My wife and I often drive on Bullard between Blackstone and Marks. We’re happy to know the street will be fixed. My neighbors throughout Northwest Fresno no doubt feel the same way.

The other council members on June 15 didn’t begrudge Brandau’s good fortune in successfully getting such a sweet project through the rigors of Public Works’ selection/funding process. But some of them couldn’t hide their envy.

“What are the chances of getting that overlay extended from Blackstone Avenue to Chestnut?” District 4 Council Member Paul Caprioglio asked staff.

Public Works Director Scott Mozier went to the public microphone. The stretch of Bullard between Highway 41 and First Street has already received appropriate attention, Mozier said. As to the stretch of Bullard east of First (perhaps all the way to Willow Avenue), yes, that needs help, Mozier said.

“It’s not possible with this grant funding to add that (First to Willow) on,” Mozier said.

But, Mozier added, Public Works officials during the recent budget hearings promised to soon return to the council with a five-year paving and projects plan for the entire city.

So, Mozier said to Caprioglio, a First-to-Willow repaving project is “one we’d definitely take into consideration.”

To which Caprioglio said with a smile that had plenty of resolve behind it: “Please take it under deep consideration.”

In response to a question from Baines, Mozier said Public Works maintains a citywide pavement management system to determine which repair/repaving projects get the A-OK and which get put on the backburner. (I thought to myself: I’d love to see the rankings from that system. I was surprised no one on the dais asked Mozier for a one-on-one review of those rankings.)

It wasn’t long before Council Member Garry Bredefeld had the microphone. Bullard from Blackstone to Willow is the dividing line between Bredefeld’s District 6 and Caprioglio’s District 4.

“I would second Council Member Caprioglio,” Bredefeld said. “We share Bullard. It would be great if we could extend it (the Bullard overlay) further.”

Speaking for the entire council, Bredefeld added, “We do have a lot of (other) streets that need work, as well.”

What’s all this to do with Borgeas, the Fresno County supervisor whose District 2 includes Northwest Fresno?

I live in Supervisorial District 2. Monday’s mail brought an official County of Fresno letter from my supervisor.

I took notice – Andreas in his four-plus years at the Hall of Records hasn’t sent many official letters to Mary and George Hostetter.

It was obvious from the letter’s contents that we weren’t the only voters on Borgeas’ mailing list.

“Dear Neighbor,” Borgeas wrote. “At last Bullard Avenue is being repaved! Bullard has been in need of maintenance for some time and these road improvements will definitely have a positive community impact. This project is the result of close collaboration over several years between the County of Fresno and the City of Fresno.”

Borgeas from there gave a few key project details – identity of contractor, construction dates, names and phone numbers of important city and county officials (among them his staff members and District 2 Council Member Brandau).

This was my favorite part of the letter: “As indicated in the map below, Bullard falls under City and County jurisdiction, which required both Supervisorial District #2 and Council District #2 to help secure the necessary funding for the respective portions and for staff to coordinate accordingly.”

I have no doubt that’s true. I just don’t remember that point being made by Mozier or Assistant Public Works Director Robert Andersen at the June 15 council meeting.

Let me emphasize that Mary and I are thankful that Supervisor Borgeas took the time and effort to keep us informed about the future of our neighborhood infrastructure. With the news industry forever fractured in this digital age, regular folks like the Hostetters will find it a challenge to keep abreast of government actions that don’t rise to the level of scandal.

At the same time, I couldn’t help wondering if there was another motive behind Borgeas’ missive. CVObserver recently reported that the Supervisor has his eye on the State Senate District 8 seat that will be up for grabs next year. That district includes North Fresno.

The 2018 election season is only nine or 10 months away. That’s just the blink of the eye for an ambitious politician looking to solidify his brand with voters.

Mary and I never miss an election.

In more ways than one, Andreas Borgeas’ road to Sacramento is paved with asphalt.

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George Hostetter

George Hostetter is a contributor to CVObserver and advisor to The Collegian, the student newspaper of Fresno State.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Dan Waterhouse

    July 6, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    As one who worked for Caltrans for many years, I’m chuckling right now. The Bullard project equates to a bandaid. At most the contractor will be doing a thin blanket overlay (up to 0.35 feet in depth). Slurry coat is precisely that, a thin coat of asphalt concrete (AC) to cover over the alligator cracks. Fresno weather is not kind to AC and on a high traffic street like Bullard, it won’t last long.

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