Dallas Residents Receive a Better Bang for Their Buck

📅   Wed May 24, 2017 - West Edition #11


Rick Galceran, director of the mobility & street services department.
Rick Galceran, director of the mobility & street services department.

Keeping traffic flowing smoothly is a challenge every city faces. When you have more than 11,700 lane mi. of roads to maintain like the city of Dallas, the task can be monumental. Rick Galceran, director of the city's mobility & street services department, said that it is always looking for ways to improve.

“Citizens want the greatest value for their tax dollars, and that's our goal too,” said Galceran. “We assess ourselves constantly, looking for ways to be more efficient and effective. We took a big step forward with the merger of our street services and public works departments in late 2016. The new mobility & street services department is now the umbrella for all of the city's transportation divisions and the more than 700 employees who work within them.”

Before the merger, public works served mainly as an engineering group to review roadway conditions and other items. Street Services had four divisions — transportation; large street repairs; street maintenance and contract-inspections; as well as finance administration — each of which handled specific functions. Those divisions have been retained under the new mobility & street services department.

“Public works and street services operated from two different capacities. Public works provided to street services the list of streets in need of non-capital repairs for each fiscal year. Then the 200-strong city workforce — plus contracted help — performed the street repairs as designated by public works,” explained Jerry Ortega, assistant director of the mobility & street services department. “Logically, combining public works and street forces now means we work closer together, and this offers easier and enhanced coordination.”

Ortega explained that the city assesses its roadways and, as done nationally, grades each from A to E, similar to a school report card. “A” grades are the best and indicate a street or road was newly constructed or reconstructed. Those require little, if any, immediate attention. Roads with lower grades range from needing only preventive maintenance to emphasizing and ensuring their safety until repairs or replacement are performed.

A rating of “D” or “E” means a street needs to be demolished or completely reconstructed. For those types of capital improvement projects, the department sends out a bid to general contractors. The street repairs division ensures that roadways meet or exceed their designed life expectancies. It does so by performing all types of street treatments just short of complete reconstruction.

“Because we have merged and are now under the same umbrella, we share all resources and can best determine the work that's planned for upcoming fiscal years,” said Galceran. “That saves costs and speeds up repairs and maintenance.”

New Urban

Ortega noted that the merger increased efficiencies and saved capital resources, which the mobility & street services department is putting toward improving the city streets' aesthetics and their environment.

“The savings from the merger allowed us to create an urban forestry division within the department, and soon we will hire a city forester,” said Ortega. “We are looking at ways to expand the tree canopy citywide by planting trees and native, low-maintenance plants in the medians and rights-of-way. This added landscaping will enhance the city by making our streets greener and shadier. It's a real win-win for all.”

Good Equipment, Excellent Service

The city of Dallas also looks for great value in equipment. A large percentage of its fleet includes Komatsu, Gradall, Vögele, Wirtgen and Hamm machines purchased from Kirby-Smith Machinery Inc. with the help of Governmental Sales Rep. Sol Gieser and supporting staff.

“Our crews like the production and power of the equipment, as well as the fuel efficiency and reliability,” said Ortega. “All of the machinery we get from Kirby-Smith performs well. It's good, and the ongoing service behind it is even better.”

In addition to the initial training that comes with new equipment purchases, Kirby-Smith Machinery also provides added opportunities for the city's personnel to learn how to best utilize the machines.

“Sol, and everyone I've worked with from Kirby-Smith, go above and beyond to ensure our machines and operators maximize production and keep our equipment downtime to a minimum,” said Ortega. “It's a pleasure to work with a company that cares about the customer. They exceed our expectations.”

Future Benefits

Galceran and the mobility & street services team view Dallas citizens as customers and strive every day to make their lives better.

“The merger has already paid dividends, and we believe it will continue to do so going forward,” said Ortega. “We're committed to giving the public the most bang for its buck. I think combining forces will yield benefits that we haven't discovered yet; we are excited about what the future holds.”