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Mesa considers charging companies for cutting pavement

PHOENIX — City engineer Beth Huning is proud of Mesa’s latest work.

“We’ve had a lot of streets that we’ve recently redone and right now, we’re putting light rail in central Mesa,” Huning said. “All of those things, once we’re done, will have new asphalt, and we’d like to keep it new for a while.”

That’s why Huning presented a proposal to a city council committee that would ban companies like Southwest Gas, Salt River Project and Cox from cutting pavement less than two years old, except for emergencies. For pavement between two and six years old, companies would have to pay fees based on the age of the pavement and size of the cuts.

“You’ve driven down a city street, you’ve hit potholes where somebody has cut the pavement,” she said. “The ‘rideability’ of the surface goes down. You start to get water in them and then they start settling and they start causing cracking in the asphalt, which gets more water in below the asphalt and basically reduces the life of the pavement up to 25 percent.”

Huning said the goal is for cities and companies to better coordinate their work to avoid cutting pavement as much as possible. Charging fees would put Mesa in line with most other Valley cities. The proposal is making its way through city committees with a full vote by the council expected later this year.