AZTEC — City commissioners will meet Tuesday to decide whether to seek funding to improve city streets and sidewalks.

If approved by New Mexico Department of Transportation, nearly $500,000, including gross receipts taxes, would flow through the Local Government Road Fund Highway Co-Op program.

The road-improvement funding is available for municipalities that can show financial hardship to the transportation department and the State Highway Commission.

The grant requires roughly 25 percent in matching funds from the city's 2014 fiscal-year budget.

The Highway Cooperative funding is rotated among Aztec, Farmington and Bloomfield "to provide a larger source of funds to complete projects," according to the city's staff summary report.

Informed by the cooperative work of the Metropolitan Planning Organization and the transportation department, the three biggest cities in San Juan County essentially take turns to apply for funding to leverage project money.

Last year, commissioners and the city approved and completed a 10-year, street-maintenance plan, based on a block-by-block inspection of city streets.

They were ranked by condition and prioritized by greatest need.

Twenty percent to 30 percent of roadways in Aztec were deemed "poor," a statistic City Engineer Mike Huber wants to bring down to zero.

"It was the desire of the commission to take the arbitrariness out of repairing roads and add the mayor's visioning concept to get a more thorough and detailed understanding of all the needs, great and small," Huber said. "With the data we collected, residents — and the city — can see exactly what needs work and when, and compare the condition and repair schedule of your street with others."

A summary repair chart available at the city's website lists more than 50 streets slated for a variety of improvements to combat the effects of climate, age, use and condition of the street's substructure. The city used formulas based on national and regional guidelines, Huber said, adding that those formulas might not capture the full picture.

"Only using a national standard would ignore what is quite clear to people in this area," Huber said, "which is our sometimes daily freeze-thaw cycle."

The needed repairs include patching, sealing cracks, sidewalks and curbs, mill and overlay and "chip repair," a protective sealant of stone chips and emulsion that protects asphalt from weathering.

Many of San Juan County's roads suffer from "alligatoring," one of the most common failures of asphalt surfaces. Once the road surface resembles the belly of an alligator, a pothole is on its way, Huber said.

Deprived of a crystal ball, Huber said the city has to annually reassess the condition of streets to guard against unforeseen complications or changes that could modify how streets are ranked.

"This way, we are on top of the road needs and can plan for repairs now," Huber said. "Like anything else, they only get more expensive if you don't."

The city commission meets Tuesday at City Hall, 201 W. Chaco St., at 6 p.m.

James Fenton can be reached at jfenton@daily-times.com; 564-4621. Follow him on Twitter @fentondt.