Op-Ed

Kicking can down the road no solution for Tacoma streets

Mark Martinez is executive secretary of the Pierce County Building and Trades Council.
Mark Martinez is executive secretary of the Pierce County Building and Trades Council. Staff file

Now is the time to fix Tacoma’s streets. 1968 was the last time Tacoma voters said yes to dedicated funding to for street repairs, and 47 years is long enough.

For the past two years, business, labor and community leaders have worked together to create a responsible plan that will help fix our local streets. Propositions 3 and A are the result of this collaborative effort.

Propositions 3 and A will put more than 420 people to work to fix 1,500 blocks of our worst streets, pave 167 blocks of our gravel roads and maintain another 4,200 blocks of street so that they do not fall into disrepair.

Propositions 3 and A will cost the typical Tacoma household an additional $7.50 a month through modest increases in the property tax, sales tax and tax on utilities’ earnings. Together, these measures will raise $175 million in new revenue. Combined with grant funding and more city resources, this will allow us to perform $325 million of work over 10 years.

The additional funding will lead to improvements in every neighborhood.

Investing in the repair and maintenance of city streets creates jobs, increases property values and improves safety for all – drivers, bikers and walkers. Delaying repairs will only make fixing the problem cost more in the future.

Propositions 3 and A will help fast-track projects to improve key arterials and freight connections to ensure that businesses are able to transport goods and services safely and efficiently.

Investing in our streets is essential for maintaining the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Our parents and grandparents understood this. It is time for us to stand up for our children and grandchildren.

The condition of our streets creates hazards for all modes of travel. Approving Propositions 3 and A will help improve crosswalks near schools and create more safe routes to schools across Tacoma. In addition, we will see improved multimodal access to and from our local business districts, parks and community centers.

This plan is a responsible approach that ensures all new revenue will be solely dedicated to roads, sidewalks, bike paths and crosswalks.

Annual reports will be delivered to the community that will outline the progress that is being made. The taxes expire every 10 years and can only be renewed by a vote of the people.

Kicking the can down the road, while we hope and pray for another solution, is not a viable option. The problem will persist and only get worse and more expensive.

Both Proposition 3 and Proposition A have been endorsed by a broad coalition of community leaders and groups including organized labor, PTAs, local business districts, the Tacoma Weekly, The News Tribune, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, local firefighters, the Cascade Bicycle club, Metro Parks Tacoma and Downtown on the Go.

For more information, visit YesTacomaStreets2015.com. We urge our fellow Tacomans to vote yes on Proposition 3 and approve Proposition A.

Mark Martinez is executive secretary of the Pierce County Building and Trades Council. Tom Pierson is president and CEO of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce. They are co-chairs of the Fix Tacoma Streets campaign.

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