Trying To Fund Needed Street Repairs

Thursday, February 14th 2008, 7:30 am
By: News On 6

Tulsans all complain about our streets, but to how to fix them is the million dollar question, with the billion dollar answer.  Six in the Morning reporter Carina Sonn continues her month-long look at Tulsa's Worst Streets.

They're rough and bumpy and drivers have their own opinions about which are the worst. 

"There's some really bad ones on Utica that you don't see and you run across," said Tulsa driver Katie Vesely. 

"Lewis between 21st and 31st is really bad," said Gordon Walter.

"Some midtown streets are a little too rough," said Tulsa driver Lindsey Lewis. 

"Pretty big dips," said Katie Vesely.

The Mayor's Action Center says these are some of the worst streets in town, according to the number of people who call and complain about them. 

The News On 6 took a closer look at one of those streets.  We found cracks and potholes and one section even left our camera wet.  Tulsa city officials say it's just a small example of a very large problem. 

"We're at a critical point right now to where if it deteriorates much more then we go from being able to save it to being in a complete reconstruct mode," said Tulsa city councilor Bill Martinson. 

Martinson along with Mayor Taylor formed the Complete Our Streets committee last year to discuss solutions to the problem.  He says most of the committee's ideas involve raising sales and property taxes.  The Tulsa city council is now reviewing the committee's findings, but Martinson has added some of his own. 

"I wanted to see if we could minimize the impact on the voters and that's kind of what we're looking at," said Bill Martinson. 

His plan would raise the $1.6 billion needed to get the streets to a 'C' grade by 2020.  Ideas include using the city's third penny sales tax solely for transportation, specifically for maintaining the roads we already have and not starting any new expansion projects.  Martinson is also proposed a new 10-year general bond when the current one runs out.  And increasing Tulsa's property taxes to match Oklahoma City's property taxes. 

Right now the Tulsa city council is also asking each department to justify their financial needs, to try and squeeze more money from the third penny.   It's an idea Gordon Walter agrees with. 

"I really think there are so many places that they can find this money, that they're using money unwisely," said Gordon Walter.

The city of Tulsa assures the News On 6, they are working toward smoothing roads with a plan that will hopefully go over well with taxpayers.