Bee Investigator

Rough roads and ramshackle church in Oakdale

East Second Avenue in front of the the Oakdale police station and the City Council chambers is the worst block in Oakdale with a Pavement Condition Index of zero out of a potential 100.
East Second Avenue in front of the the Oakdale police station and the City Council chambers is the worst block in Oakdale with a Pavement Condition Index of zero out of a potential 100. etracy@modbee.com

There are some rough roads in Oakdale – I know. There’s nothing like riding a bicycle on pitted, cracked and crumbling asphalt to fully experience just how dire their condition.

One reader wanted to know specifically about North Eighth Avenue, near Gilbert Park.

“The road (has) completely come apart all the way to the dirt,” Joe Chavez said in an email earlier this year. “For about 100 yards, there is no road left, rocks flying everywhere. You have to see it to believe it.”

According to a Pavement Condition Index study done in 2013, that block rates a depressing 6 on a 100-point scale.

Roads with a PCI less than 25 are considered to be in very poor condition.

But it’s not even the worst road in town, competing with a few others sixes and a couple below that. The worst block in Oakdale is North Second Avenue in front of the Police Department and the City Council chambers, with a PCI of zero.

There’s no quick or inexpensive fix for these roads. They need to be ground down and replaced, said City Manager Bryan Whitemyer. That can cost between $200,000 and $250,000 a block, he said.

Whitemyer said the city gets from $250,000 to $500,000 annually from state gas tax, the Stanislaus Council of Governments and a few other funds to spend on road work, but it would need $2 million just to maintain the roads if they all were brought up to good condition.

Which roads get the money each year depends on a few factors:

▪ Whitemyer said a few pavement-replacement projects like the ones needed on North Second and North Eighth avenues could blow the budget. The city needs to balance those with maintenance work like less expensive crack sealing and patchwork so the roads that are in good condition stay that way.

▪ The city considers the amount of traffic on the roads that need improvement, giving preference to those that are more heavily traveled.

▪ The worst streets are in the oldest neighborhoods with the oldest infrastructure, so the most economical move is to replace water and sewer lines while the road is already torn up, which would cost about $85,000 per block.

And in some cases, the squeaky wheel gets the asphalt patchwork.

Chavez began complaining to City Hall about the condition of North Eighth Avenue shortly after moving there in January. He called city staff and wrote the council until a few months ago crews filled a hole at the end of his driveway that would fill with water every time it rained. And just a few weeks ago, the city returned and patched holes on the rest of the street.

Chavez said he is satisfied for now but eventually would like to see the street replaced.

Whitemyer said there is no master schedule that dictates when the worst streets will get fixed because funding is so uncertain. Rather, projects are approved year to year.

The next big road replacement is scheduled for the spring and will include a small portion of North Eighth Avenue where it intersects East C Street. East C Street will be replaced between Johnson and North Sixth avenues.

While Oakdale has a few really bad roads, the majority are in good condition. Oakdale has an overall PCI score of 72, compared to Modesto at 56, Turlock at 59 and Ceres at 64. A PCI above 70 is considered good.

The roads aren’t the only thing in Oakdale in need of an overhaul.

In February, I wrote about a 121-year-old former United Brethren Church downtown that the city is trying to part with.

It hasn’t been used as a place of worship, or given a facelift, since before the city bought it and an adjoining annex in 1990.

So the city held an open house for the properties, as well a building it owns on South Second Avenue that was built in 1939.

The church and the South Second Avenue building are dilapidated and in need of major repairs. So the city was seeking proposals from business owners, nonprofits and individuals with a plan to repurpose the properties, whether it be through restoration or demolition.

A spa and boutique across the street from the South Second Street property submitted a proposal to expand its business. They offered $13,600 in a rent-to-own agreement over two years that would include the business taking on all rehab costs, including a complete rewiring, window replacements and asbestos removal.

In June, the city rejected the offer, instead opting to move forward with its original plan when it bought the building to tear it down and add more parking for the nearby community center. Asbestos was recently removed from the property, and the $9,350 demolition will begin soon.

Parking is what the city wants for the property on which the church sits as well. With no proposals to repurpose the church, the city is attempting to save the historic church by selling it for $1 to anyone willing to relocate it. Any takers?

The annex next to the church is the only structure for which a proposal was submitted that was accepted.

A nonprofit that intends to build a no-kill animal shelter to serve Oakdale and Riverbank will lease the annex to operate a thrift store to raise funds to build the shelter.

The Animal Shelter to Riverbank/Oakdale, or ASTRO Foundation, will lease the space for three to five years at a rate of $1 per year. The foundation will pay all utilities and make needed improvements.

Have a question for the Bee Investigator? Call 209-578-2366 or email etracy@modbee.com.

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