August 15, 1996 in Washington Voices

Pain In The Pavement Everyone Agrees Some North Side Roads Are In Terrible Shape, But There’s Disagreement About How To Pay For Repairs

By The Spokesman-Review
 

At North Hill Auto Repair, Jim Sills sees the carnage.

Broken struts and shocks, worn bushings, loose tie rod ends.

“Cars are designed to go down a nice, smooth road,” said Sills, who is taking over the repair shop from his father.

Smooth is not the word to describe many North Side streets. A few blocks from Sills’ shop is one of the worst stretches in Spokane.

Wall Street between Wellesley and Francis is renowned for potholes, patches and bumps. It’s a veritable moonscape of pavement.

“I won’t even drive on Wall above Wellesley,” said Sills.

City leaders say they have an answer to the sorry state of Spokane’s streets. They are asking for a $37.3 million bond issue to be repaid through property taxes over seven years. Voters will decide the issue on the September primary ballot. The cost to an average homeowner is estimated at $100 a year.

Judging from opinions of North Side residents, passage of the bond is going to be a bumpy road.

“They definitely have to do something, but without raising the taxes totally on the homeowner, ” said Luella Wahl, a North Side resident.

She and her husband, Ed Wahl, live near Driscoll Boulevard, and they see a flood of commuters pouring into Spokane every day.

Their concerns reflect the common sense opinions of oldtimers on the North Side. Why can’t the city fix streets with the money it already has, and why aren’t suburban residents forced to contribute to street repairs?

City officials said the property tax bond issue is the only alternative left in their tax arsenal.

Voters turned down a small countywide gasoline tax increase two years ago. The possibility of adding street repair charges to utility bills was overturned by the courts.

Over the years, the city has relied on a combination of state gasoline tax money and property tax collections to pay for street maintenance.

The city’s ongoing share of the state gasoline tax has not increased substantially in the past 10 years, and the city has shifted more street funds into sweeping to comply with anti-pollution laws.

A property tax bond from the late 1980s was spent several years ago, and now the city is returning to voters to ask for a newer, larger bond issue.

The proposed bond would pay for resurfacing nearly 50 miles of streets citywide. Repaving would cover 46 miles of arterials. Slightly less than half of the arterial work, or 22 miles of it, would occur on the North Side.

The city has some 850 miles of roads, including 220 miles of arterials.

Of the arterials citywide, only 31 percent of the pavement is considered to be in good condition while another 38 percent needs minor repair. That leaves 31 percent of the arterials needing major work.

Phil Williams, manager of city engineering, said resurfacing streets now will be less costly than waiting another 10 or 20 years and letting pavement deteriorate so badly it would have to be excavated and relaid with a new gravel base.

“What we are trying to do is catch many of the streets now before it gets too expensive,” Williams said.

Signs have gone up all over the North Side declaring the city’s intention to fix specific streets if voters are generous in September.

Among the busiest and bumpiest are Haven Street in Hillyard, Wall Street south of Francis, Driscoll Boulevard north of Olympic and Garland Avenue east of Division.

Monroe Street, which carries nearly 26,000 vehicles every day, needs resurfacing north of the bridge to Mission Avenue.

Ash Street between Dean and Mansfield is on the list.

T.J. Meenach Drive just below Northwest Boulevard is also on the fix list.

Sections of Wellesley between Monroe and Washington and between Market and Ferrall are also proposed for improvements.

Still another nasty stretch of pavement scheduled for repair is Indiana Avenue east of Ruby.

Among lesser-traveled streets proposed for repair are G Street between Garland and Hoffman; Bridgeport from Mayfair to Morton; Perry from Jackson to Fairview, and Rowan from Division to Cincinnati.

Some North Side residents don’t need much convincing the streets need fixing.

“It’s a pain. The streets are terrible,” said John Cummings, a North Side resident and the owner of The Original Cookie by Design shop at Rowan and Wall. He said he plans to vote yes on the bond issue.

Cummings said Wall is so bad he thinks he loses drop-in business because motorists are more likely to use Monroe instead.

The city ought to spend $137 million, not $37 million, he said. “Spend the money. Go for it. Fix it up.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Spokane’s future road repairs?

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: TARGETED STREETS Here is a list of arterials on the North Side that would be resurfaced or rehabilitated under the city street bond proposal:

Haven from Rich to Wellesley. Haven and Market from Diamond to Francis. Nevada from Glass to Wellesley. Broadway from Freya to Havana. Wellesley from Normandie to Lidgerwood and from Monroe to Washington. Mission from Green to Trent. Francis from Division to Astor and from Perry to Stone. Washington from Shannon to Jackson. Post from Sinto to Shannon. Monroe from Bridge to Maxwell; York to Grace and Garland to LaCrosse. Maple from Wellesley to Cedar. Ash from Dean to Mansfield. Indian Trail from Francis to Weile. T.J. Meenach Drive at top half of hill south of Northwest Boulevard. Freya from Frederick to Longfellow. Illinois and Crestline from Pittsburg to Euclid. Perry from Mission to Illinois. Fancher Road from Parwater to Rutter. Indiana from Astor to Standard and from Columbus to Perry. Euclid from Lee to Haven. Empire and Garland from Mayfair to Perry and from Pittsburg to Market. Wellesley from Market to Ferrall. Rowan from Division to Cincinnati. Driscoll from Olympic to Bismark. Perry from Jackson to Fairview. Addison and Standard from Lyons to Wedgewood. Bridgeport from Mayfair to Morton. Wall from Wellesley to Francis. G Street from Garland to Hoffman.

This sidebar appeared with the story: TARGETED STREETS Here is a list of arterials on the North Side that would be resurfaced or rehabilitated under the city street bond proposal:

Haven from Rich to Wellesley. Haven and Market from Diamond to Francis. Nevada from Glass to Wellesley. Broadway from Freya to Havana. Wellesley from Normandie to Lidgerwood and from Monroe to Washington. Mission from Green to Trent. Francis from Division to Astor and from Perry to Stone. Washington from Shannon to Jackson. Post from Sinto to Shannon. Monroe from Bridge to Maxwell; York to Grace and Garland to LaCrosse. Maple from Wellesley to Cedar. Ash from Dean to Mansfield. Indian Trail from Francis to Weile. T.J. Meenach Drive at top half of hill south of Northwest Boulevard. Freya from Frederick to Longfellow. Illinois and Crestline from Pittsburg to Euclid. Perry from Mission to Illinois. Fancher Road from Parwater to Rutter. Indiana from Astor to Standard and from Columbus to Perry. Euclid from Lee to Haven. Empire and Garland from Mayfair to Perry and from Pittsburg to Market. Wellesley from Market to Ferrall. Rowan from Division to Cincinnati. Driscoll from Olympic to Bismark. Perry from Jackson to Fairview. Addison and Standard from Lyons to Wedgewood. Bridgeport from Mayfair to Morton. Wall from Wellesley to Francis. G Street from Garland to Hoffman.

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