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Study Calls City of Tulsa Street Repair Short-Sighted

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An independent study of Tulsa's street repairs program shows that long-term projects tend to get short-changed. An independent study of Tulsa's street repairs program shows that long-term projects tend to get short-changed.
The report says the city concentrates on temporary repairs such as filling potholes at the expense of scheduled permanent work. The report says the city concentrates on temporary repairs such as filling potholes at the expense of scheduled permanent work.
City Councilor Bill Martinson blames lack of funding for the poor condition of Tulsa's streets. City Councilor Bill Martinson blames lack of funding for the poor condition of Tulsa's streets.

By Dan Bewley and Teri Hood, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- An independent review reveals that the City of Tulsa needs to re-think how it funds its public works department. The report finds that long-term goals continually get short-changed because of temporary repairs.

The 52-page audit says the half-billion dollar "Fix Our Streets" program is well done, but auditors say city leaders need to get on the same page to keep the streets in working order.

It was one of the most talked about campaigns in recent Tulsa history - how to fund street repair. The original plan called for $2 billion to be spent over 12 years for construction and maintenance, but several organizations, including the police department, NAACP, and Mayor Kathy Taylor came out against it.

Voters eventually passed a $452 million plan that didn't include any money for maintenance.

"The mayor and the Chamber of Commerce decided to pitch a lower profile plan, which didn't address the maintenance which is the crux of the problem," said City Councilor Bill Martinson.

Now an independent audit has finished looking into the Public Works Department's street maintenance division. It found that the smaller Fix Our Streets program is well done, but not enough to provide long-term care for the city's streets.

Read The Audit Report

The report says the city concentrates on temporary repairs such as filling potholes at the expense of scheduled permanent work.

It also determined the street maintenance program is not focused on maintenance; instead more than 50% of its work is for special projects like D-Fest or the Tulsa Run.

Less than 50% of the work is for repair and maintenance. Curb repair, the report says, is not done on time leading to a one-year backlog.

Anytime you can get either an internal or external assessment, a valid assessment of your activities, you'll find opportunities for improvement and that's the case here - and we will," said Public Works Director Charles Hardt.

Hardt says the report is a good chance to implement changes, but the key, he says, is funding - a sentiment echoed by councilor Bill Martinson.

"Lack of funding created a problem; lack of funding is going continue to create a problem," said Bill Martinson, Tulsa City Councilor.

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