OIG Releases Follow-Up of the CDOT Pavement Management Audit

The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has completed a follow-up to its December 2015 audit of the City’s pavement management process. Based on the responses provided by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), we conclude that although the Department is implementing three corrective actions related to the audit finding, it maintains its original position of declining to pursue any corrective action addressing pavement management issues related to the Aldermanic Menu Program (Menu). OIG found that, contrary to Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) guidelines for an empirically-based and network-level long-term pavement management strategy, the pavement component of the Menu operates through a decentralized approach, guided by aldermanic discretion. We continue to urge CDOT to remove residential streets from the Menu and, instead, adopt a holistic, citywide approach to resurfacing residential and arterial streets.

“Chicago is in desperate need of a comprehensive approach to fundamental infrastructure, not one where residential street paving decisions are made by aldermen based solely on complaints and superficial surveys, while the main thoroughfares are resurfaced based on high-tech data analyzed by transportation experts. This does not require the termination of the Menu Program or participatory budgeting, but rather a reorientation of the Menu away from core infrastructure projects like street paving,” says Joseph Ferguson, the City’s Inspector General. “The current system has resulted in demonstrable inequities between wards, and inefficient and ineffective use of valuable infrastructure resources.”

In the original audit, OIG found that CDOT’s pavement management program did not comport with FHWA guidelines. Specifically, we found that the Department’s pavement management program, which considers arterial and residential streets separately, was deficient in the areas of street condition data collection, performance measurement, and preventive maintenance. OIG recommended that CDOT implement a pavement preservation program designed to achieve the most cost-effective means of extending the life of City streets through developing in-house expertise about pavement preservation techniques, collecting reliable pavement condition data on a routine basis, developing a proactive preventive maintenance strategy, and separating residential street resurfacing from the Menu.

CDOT agreed to complete another pavement condition rating of the City’s arterial street system in 2017, but, due to funding constraints, has not yet done so.  CDOT informs OIG that, after the 2017 paving season concludes, the Department will conduct a visual survey of residential streets and update its residential pavement condition maps. CDOT will continue to send updated lists of poor or fair conditioned streets to aldermen to inform their planning and decision-making related to the Menu and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) projects.

The OIG CDOT Pavement Managament Audit Follow-Up can be found online.

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