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.


  1. The Tulsa City Council voted 5-4 to place the two street propositions on the
    ballot. Councilors Eagleton, Westcott, Gomez and Martinson voted against the

    The Chair of the City Council's Streets Sub-Committee (Martinson), was intimately
    in studying Tulsa's street deficiencies. They consulted external experts
    worked closely the Public Works department. In short, years and decades of
    neglect have created a multi billion dollar problem. They spent months
    developing a comprehensive approach to addressing that need. That proposal
    would have ensured the long term commitment necessary to restore and
    maintain our infrastructure. That proposal is not on the ballot thanks to some last minute maneuvering by the Mayor and Chamber of Commerce.

    In the early 1980's, Tulsa had over 220 employees assigned to street maintenance; today we have 69. Yet, we have doubled the number of lane
    miles in the City during that time. As a point of reference, there are enough lane miles in Tulsa to take you from New York City to Los Angeles and back to Tulsa with miles to spare (you would also encounter a signalized intersection
    every 10 miles along the way). Expecting 69 employees, 50 of which are
    actually in the field, to provide reactive maintenance (e.g., filling pot
    holes), much less preventive maintenance, on that much pavement is absurd.
    The original longer term proposal that they supported, provided restoring 100 of
    those positions over time. In addition to these positions that would have
    enabled them to effectively and efficiently extend the life of our streets,
    they also provided additional funding for right of way maintenance, graffiti
    abatement, and traffic engineering in order to
    address dangerous intersections and improve traffic flow. Furthermore, they had
    included $120 million for street widening.

    The shorter plan was developed by the Mayor in a matter of weeks, if not
    It provides minimal resources for street maintenance, no additional funding for
    right of way maintenance, graffiti abatement or traffic engineering and has
    NO funding for widening. While it may hold the pavement condition relatively steady, it will increase the backlog of work by $64 million. The difference in cost to a taxpayer living in a $100,000 house between the longer plan and the
    plan on the November 4 ballot is approximately $8 per year, less than a $1 per month.

    The street propositions on November 4 ballot will not fix the fundamental problems relating to our streets and will ultimately cost the
    taxpayers of Tulsa hundreds of millions of dollars more than necessary.
    Accordingly, those councilors will be voting NO on both propositions.

  2. Wow - thanks for the comprehensive update. Care to identify yourself?