How I Helped Overhaul Road Paving in Westfield

I ran for office four years ago to make Westfield better. One of my chief focus areas was improving the condition of our town roads, which far too many people likened to the “third world” when I was campaigning.

Over the past three and a half years, I’ve helped lead a complete overhaul of road paving in Westfield through my positions as Chair of the Public Works Committee and Vice Chair/Member of the Finance Committee. This has led to many significant accomplishments including:

  • a tripling of road paving from 2018-2021 -- totaling 47 miles (nearly half of the town) -- versus the prior four years
  • new ordinances that protect our roads from being opened and require utilities that open roads to repave them curb to curb
  • a new analytical approach to paving decisions based on road condition to ensure the town paves the right roads first
  • a unique partnership with utilities that has led them to pave 50% of our roads for FREE and at no cost to you

Here’s how I helped achieve these successes.

First, I figured out the issues. After talking to Town Officials and benchmarking other towns, the chief issues affecting Westfield’s roads were:

  • Not enough funds were being budgeted for road paving
  • Utilities were opening our streets and not fully repairing them, causing more patches and more uneven road surfaces
  • The Town didn’t use an objective approach to determining which roads should be paved each year

Then, I worked with Town Officials and other members of the Town Council -- especially Code Committee Chair Dawn Mackey and Finance Committee Chair Linda Habgood -- to solve these issues.

First, we increased investment in road paving in the capital budget. By using some of the bloated surplus to invest in much needed town equipment and technology, this freed up capital spending for road paving.

Second, we changed how the town developed its paving plans. Previously, the town relied on qualitative feedback from the DPW, Police, residents and if you can believe this, elected officials. Not hard data. Instead, we hired a well-known engineering firm to objectively grade every town road and subbase, assigning each a PCI score – or Pavement Condition Index. That way, the town could focus on paving roads in the worst shape first. Note: You can see your road’s PCI score on the town website.

Third, we passed ordinances to protect our roads including an ordinance that mandates that any utility that opens a road must pave the entire affected area curb-to-curb. In other words, no more patching.

By taking all these steps, the town was able to accelerate paving in town and build a unique partnership with utilities who have fully paid for half of the town’s paving -- meaning this road paving was FREE to you as a taxpayer.

This proactive approach to road paving is the same approach I take along with my Westfield Together counterparts to address every other issue facing our town. If you want Council representatives who proactively address issues and implement solutions, please vote to re-elect me for Ward 3. Thanks. Let me know if you have any questions ([email protected] or 917-589-1197).

Stay well,

David Contract, Ward 3 Councilman