Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Two street fixing proposals under debate - only one actually fixes the streets.

There are two proposals on the table for Tulsa street repair:

The $270 million program, which would run from 2009 to 2013, would sock all of the money toward a paving and crack-sealing effort and do some street reconstruction.

Christiansen said it would be up to the Public Works Department, the council and the mayor to determine where in the city the money would be spent.

The $2 billion program, which would run from 2010 to 2021, would be a comprehensive approach to bring the city's overall Pavement Condition Index score to a satisfactory level and maintain it.

The program would provide funds to take care of the city's rights-of-ways, bridges and railroad crossings and add more than 100 workers to form an in-house street maintenance crew.

It also contains $120 million for street-widening projects and $281 million to maintain the city's buildings, buy buses and fire apparatus, and make telecommunications upgrades.

It's unfortunate that we're even talking about such a small, stop-gap measure as the $270 million proposal. Also from the article:

Public Works Department Deputy Director of Engineering Paul Zachary said that under the $270 million proposal, the overall condition of the city's streets would continue to decline.

"It wouldn't be enough money to get us to where we want to be," he said.

Tulsa's problem isn't a few cracked streets that need to be patched. Tulsa's problem is a massive, systemic street failure on a citywide scale. Such a massive problem requires a comprehensive solution. Throwing $270 million at a few cracks and potholes will do nothing to solve the overall problem.

Now, as I've said before, I'm not happy that the $2 billion project also includes such unrelated things as street widening and building maintenance. But the key thing about the $2 billion proposal that makes me support it is the ultimate goal:

...comprehensive approach to bring the city's overall Pavement Condition Index score to a satisfactory level and maintain it.

That's what we need - a comprehensive plan not only to fix the streets, but to keep them fixed.

If we don't pass a street fixing plan soon, I would be in favor of someone filing a class action lawsuit to force the city to pay for the myriad car repairs we all have to do way too often because of our streets. It's getting ridiculous out there.