Rating the Streets | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Rating the Streets

The city of Jackson contracted the van through Stantec, a Canadian-based company that specializes in infrastructure and construction, to grade the city's streets.

The city of Jackson contracted the van through Stantec, a Canadian-based company that specializes in infrastructure and construction, to grade the city's streets. Photo by Trip Burns

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If you see a funny-looking white van canvassing the streets of Jackson, don't get too excited. It's not the ghost busters. But it might help Jackson target its worst thoroughfares for repaving.

The city of Jackson contracted the van through Stantec, a Canadian-based company that specializes in infrastructure and construction, to grade the city's streets. The van is outfitted with sophisticated laser technology and shocks that feed information into a computer set up inside the van, on a desk that looks like something out of a "Star Wars" movie. An analyst sits, reading the information in real-time as the vehicle moves down the street.

The analyst gathers the results of the readings, and processes them into feedback the city can use to objectively determine the streets that are most in need of repaving.

"For years, we've had people come out and grade our streets with human eyes," Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. said. "But no matter whose eyes they were, they can't be 100 percent objective, so we've decided to do away with that."

Instead, the city has hired the van, which has already covered 1,600 miles since the survey began in early April. The city has roughly 1,200 miles of roadways, but the van must travel each road in both directions to get an accurate assessment of the street. It grades the roads with a rating from zero to 1,000, with 1,000 being immaculate and zero being completely impassable.

Johnson said the information-gathering portion of the job is about five days from completion, after which Stantec will provide the city with a full report. That report should be delivered "over the next couple of months," the mayor said.

Chris Mims, the spokesman for the city, said that the compete review is expected to cost $390,000.

The Johnson administration has said throughout the 2013 mayoral campaign that the city has paved 87 miles of streets since 2009, but Johnson has been under fire from opponents, who say he hasn't done enough to make Jackson's roads drivable.

In April, the Jackson City Council approved a $10 million bond to kick start work on major thoroughfares in every ward, even though the mayor previously said bonds were not the best way to pay for road paving.

"What we're trying to do (with this program) is establish a systematic approach to maintaining our streets," the mayor said.

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Comments

Pilgrim3 6 years, 9 months ago

Neat, but is there a publicly available schedule of which roads on what days? Even better would be making the report available to the public. Any information on whether it will be shared or not?

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RonniMott 6 years, 9 months ago

Pilgrim3, since the city (aka citizens) is paying for the report, I expect the information will be public information. We'll be following up.

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donnaladd 6 years, 9 months ago

Here's a http://roadmatrix.stantec.com/Custome...">website for the service. It looks like dozens of cities in the U.S. and Canada have used the service. On the surface, pardon the pun, it looks like a smart use of technology to keep us from wasting money.

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justjess 6 years, 9 months ago

Key to this technology is that citizens can now be assured of objectivity. The van does not know who lives on first. The Mayor has used a system in the past and I think it was called: The Worst/First - meaning that streets were fixed in the order of severity.

Mayor Johnson is constantly looking for ways to ensure citizens of his policy on fairness: The City's new hire,"a funny-looking white van" will assist in this task.

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thabian 6 years, 9 months ago

Well the Lee camp is misrepresenting this technology again in a post on facebook. What's sad is Jeff Good has bought into spreading lies now too. I think this must be Lie number 187 I 've counted that the Jonathan Lee camp has put out. If fact I don't even call it the Lee camp anymore, I just call it the band of liars. Here are the facts folks: 1.) Stantec who is rating the streets has a Jackson office on Congress Street a couple of blocks and around the corner from Lee's campaign office. 2.) The state of Mississippi has contracted a company to do this same type of rating for state roads and highways. 3.) This company is used by forward-thinking city's across the nation. 4.) The rating system provides an objective score of all the streets so that cities can target the worst ones first. This takes the politics and human error out of the equation. I understand that Lee probably wants to make sure that his big donors get choice selection on their streets being paved first and doesn’t like this program. This is not a study, rather an assessment. It’s been done in the past. Lee is just a sad liar.

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donnaladd 6 years, 9 months ago

You seem to be right, Thabian, about Stantec having a local office. They've https://business.sos.state.ms.us/corp...">been registered with the secretary of state's office since 2005, and their office is on South President downtown. I assume they pay rent and pay people and taxes here.

It is disingenuous for Lee supporters to complain about them being based out of the state. http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/...">Everyone of the businesses that are suing the Lee family's Mississippi Products Inc. are located out of state. So it does factually seem to be a weird thing to campaign on.

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donnaladd 6 years, 9 months ago

http://abmb.com/about">More on Stantec in Mississippi and Louisiana.

http://abmb.com/projects">And its projects in both states.

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marcus 6 years, 9 months ago

Did you think a Canadian Company with 16 employees really just get a office here. They have been trying to sell this now outdated technology to the city since I know of 2007 and possibly before. Before you call it news I ask that you dig deeper than the surface. I was in Norfolk VA when this was pitchedin 98 and it was a fail. JFP promised to hold Harvey accountable for his slow actions and his attitude of "you should come to me the mayor of Jackson"to get things done. The 13th year will not be different. We will continue to evaluate and "look into further" and asses the matter. It's old. Everthing in his ads are what I did and not what he plans to do. With the health fair coming up he's scrambling now because no one wants to donate to the city funds because they dont know if it will be used for something else. He does not take advice well or listen to others.

311 lastly a joke 72 hours. I have had a report filed since March 2012 to have my street drain unplugged. God Bless Mr Boone as he's hands are tied to an extent but last week I was told fiscal year of 2013 as of this morning it will be done sometime in 2014.

I have not decided who I will cast my vote for on Tuesday but I have experienced 12 years of assesments we need movement. I don't expect overnight success but I do expect services to be rendered for the taxes that I pay.

Marcus

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donnaladd 6 years, 9 months ago

Marcus,

We're told that Startec bought a local company here, which had been here a long time, and it still , has the same staff in place. I hate when local companies are owned elsewhere, but this isn't exactly going up to Canada and looking for a company to give money to, as some Lee supporters are characterizing it. Here's what someone with knowledge posted on my Facebook page; I rather suspect this company is shocked at suddenly being a political football:

Donna, last year the company Stantec bought out the company ABMB. I don't know if you are familiar with them, but ABMB has been in Jackson for many years. They have the same good folks working in Jackson now as they have had all this time. This is a good, solid engineering firm with an excellent reputation. I just happened to speak with a colleague there. ABMB was in Jackson for 27 years before being bought by Stantec.

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Knowledge06 6 years, 9 months ago

There continues to be inferences from people like Marcus above about City funds not used for what they were intended. Where is your proof? State specifics. The rhetoric like that is tired and old and void of the truth. If you're going to make that accusation, provide the proof. Further, most incumbents in office note their accomplishments when running for re-election. The funny thing is that if someone else becomes Mayor, the things that will be done in Jackson in the next 4 years will be those things that the current Mayor started. Remember the last mayoral candidate who promised magical things happening in record time? When you don't know how City government works and the laws in place that have to be adhered to, you can easily SAY things that sound good but are in no way realistic. That lesson should have been learned from what the Melton administration tried to do!

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donnaladd 6 years, 9 months ago

I do agree with the need for proof. We are drowning over here trying to factcheck all the rumors flying around because it's the responsible thing to do.

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thabian 6 years, 9 months ago

I love 311. It's one of the best things Johnson has done over the past several years. I call them all the time. They know me by name I call so much. It really depends on what the issue is, as to how quickly something gets fixed. Andy Boone down there is very helpful if you don't understand something. Potholes reported during the week are repaired within 72 hours. I had one in front of my apartment fixed this week on the same day when I called 311.

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marcus 6 years, 9 months ago

Startec has primarily worked with companies locally then once they make a deal with a city they create a local branch in that municipality. Once the municipality has agreed in term they will make a offer to buy said local company. City council in Norfolk saw through it and saw that city dollars would be taken out of the city and chose to run with a local firm. The same happened in Monterey Park from I understand after they initially won the rfp.

Which facts would you like to know. The reference of the health fair is that the funds that they expected to be contributed to the city are not coming in from partners and citizens because there is not a benefit to the donor. The city is not a non profit so there is not a charitable right off for donors. Who writes a check to the city in a manor to give back to the community. Answer no one. You need a middle institution. Salvation Army or Operation Shoe String or UW.

Harvey's circle is small in the community and limited to folks who want to receive work from the city. His staff in the first 2 years tried to reach out but after a while you get exhausted when nothing changes. Look who donated money to his campaign. 900 jobs in the city since 09 and that's good?

Two years ago Wal Mart provided a grant for back to school at the convention center. The city didn't get that grant he put his name on it.

272 children with college savings accounts is good actually great. That's not city money and if it is he owes an explanation to the citizens. It came from a matching grant I'm sure to a credit union in the area. And that's fine but act like you have done a lot and its 1998 still.

Even when picking his staff for this term his right hand man had to have a story written by CL to get him to make I've been back in Jackson since 01 and I don't know what Harveys plan is for Sept 2013 let alone Sept 2015.

Lastly 311, awesome idea and tool of accountability is there. Concept was thought of from an assessment in 1999 and implemented almost 9 years later. Why? JFP asked a question in his article about crime technology and "we have been looking at that for a year or year and a half". Why? MS Braves wanted to be downtown and follow the blueprint of the Memphis Chicks yes that Proforma created. No response on phone calls for 4 months after the initial proposal to the city. Bennie and the $35 Million...no it wasn't $35 million just for Jackson but we got $6 and used $4.5M. And no the other was not used T, it was returned for lack of use. I assume you are a citizen of Jackson call and ask for a meeting or a coffee with a department head. It is a catch 22 and jobs at the level of pay of dept heads are hard to come by so you hope to make it four more years.

I knew it was going to be a slow ride when we got brick streets on congress in front of city hall as a homage to Vicksburg. If he had his way he will run for mayor of Vicksburg in 4 years if Flagg doesn't get it. Professional Mayor.

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Knowledge06 6 years, 9 months ago

It's kinda funny that Marcus calls Mayor Johnson a Professional Mayor. Considering the tenure of the mayors in the adjacent cities (towns)(Madison, Ridgeland, Flowood, Clinton (until recently) Mayor Johnson's tenure has been short. No one ever wants to return grant money but if you've ever worked with any entity that has received those funds, you're generally restricted to spending those funds for specific purposes and within specific time frames. Depending on when funds are awarded and the specifics of the grant, it sometimes happens. There is NO organization who has received RESTRICTED grant funds who, at some point, has not had to return funds because they didn't have time to fully expend them. That's not an excuse but fact. Further, the Bennie Thompson rhetoric is tired and old. It only comes up during election time. That simply means that it doesn't hold much weight.

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