Mayor Strickland Announces $500 Million Plan to Fix All the Potholes

$500 million raised over 10 years at $50 million per year. That's what Mayor Strickland proposed in her State of the City address yesterday to fix potholes on Tacoma streets. 

Strickland says the ballot measure to repair Tacoma streets will fix all of them, but official details of the plan haven't been rolled out yet.

The Mayor's proposal will go to voters in November, two years after a smaller proposal was voted down. That proposal would have added 2% to utility earnings, raising just $10 to $11 million annually. There's no word yet on whether the new plan is going to focus again on utilities or look elsewhere to raise five times that amount.

What would you be willing to pay to fix all the potholes?

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No. I would not be willing to pay, additional money to City of Tacoma, to fix all the present potholes that the City of Tacoma makes not attempt to find and fix right now. As a Tacoma Taxpayer I must report every pothole to get it added to the listing of potholes to be fixed by the City.

The Tacoma residents do not seem to understand the City of Tacoma does not look around the town to find streets needing repair. You the Tacoma Taxpayers must report every pothole necessary to be fixed fixed. Now maybe, just maybe, that is why our streets and road are so bad, because the Taxpayers are not aware of the Tacoma streets repair process?

See my note “CoTPotholesReview.pdf” available at John Sherman MS Cloud shared “Public” folder file:

I find it just a little bit disconnected the City of Tacoma can enter into public—private partnerships for amounts like $31 million dollars but can not fix their own City of Tacoma streets and roadways first. That should have been first priority spending before any Tacoma Business District(s), private—public developments, or additional downtown general government spending or expending people or contract resources; fix the Taxpayers residential infrastructure first.

February 26, 2015 at 8:54 am / Reply / Quote and reply

4 | 4


You mean to clean up the ASARCO site?  I’d say getting rid of a superfund site takes priority, especially if you have a contractor like Point Ruston that is going to build roads as part of the financing plan.  I’d also prioritize public health before roads funding.

February 26, 2015 at 9:39 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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You mean to clean up the ASARCO site?  I’d say getting rid of a superfund site takes priority, especially if you have a contractor like Point Ruston that is going to build roads as part of the financing plan.  I’d also prioritize public health before roads funding.

The EPA Asarco Superfund Project the protects the Tacoma and Ruston people from dirt health hazards. Yes. The Asarco site building construction stuff under construction absent building permits at issue. See generally, Kathleen Cooper & Kate Martin, EPA troubled by approach of Point Ruston developers, The News Tribune, Feb. 3, 2015, available at (last visited Feb. 27,2015).

February 27, 2015 at 8:08 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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According to Mayor Trickland:  “Roads in fair condition will receive a chip seal and surface treatments.”
Read more here:

For all you bicyclists out there who may be reading this, there is a lot of technical information regarding how chip seal is not consistent with increasing bicycle use for commuting and other.  It is on the internet.  As for anecdotal information regarding how chip seals affect bicycling it is there too.  Here is a sample of a recent post on Cascade Bicycle Club’s website:

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 8:58am—John McKain
Government and Policy
The road to Sunrise was chip-sealed (tar and crushed rock) a few years ago and is now almost unrideable.  My hands went numb descending recently.  Hwy 410 has just been chip-sealed.  It is famous for inclusion in RAMROD and is also a beautiful climb to Chinook Pass.  Not anymore.  Is there nothing Cascade Bicycle Club can do to get policy at the state level enacted to ban chip seal on these roads that are part of our cycling world?  Please.

Yep, chip seals are an absolute nightmare for bicyclists.  They really never do get smoothed out on the shoulders or edge of the roadway the way they do on motor vehicle lanes because it takes heavy vehicle traffic to embed the chip into the existing asphalt. 

February 26, 2015 at 9:05 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Using fine aggregate solves this problem typically.

February 26, 2015 at 9:20 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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You are correct in the sense that “Using fine aggregate solves this problem typically.”  That being said, you don’t get to have your cake and eat it too.  Once an aggregate fine enough aggregate to “solve this problem” is used it defeats the purpose the chip seal is being proposed to address in the first place. 

The best aggregates for chip seal are one-sized (about 3/8” or 9.5 mm) and cubic in shape to provide good stability and maximum contact with tires. Hard aggregates with good resistance to abrasion and degradation give the best results in resisting traffic wear and impact. 

3/8” cubic aggregate on the surface is totally incompatible with the roadway being a quality bicycle facility, in fact it is a nightmare for cyclists.  Using <3/8 aggregate seriously degrades the ability of a chip seal to correct minor surface deficiencies and to protect and prolong the life of the pavement it is being applied to. 


February 26, 2015 at 10:18 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I’d say there is a distinct difference on distance cyclists and urban commuters as well.  Most of these comments on 410 are recreation distance cylists.  My urban tires could deal with any aggregate on the road.  There is more resistance than a pothole ridden road that hasn’t been looked at for years, but it just requires the average cyclist to put on thicker tires.

February 26, 2015 at 11:50 am / Reply / Quote and reply

1 | 1


The issue I have with chip seal is two fold, one objection is that the City is funding improvements to make Tacoma more bikeable community while simultaneously making it less comfortable to ride a bicycle. 

The other objection I have is that chip seal and other thin surface treatments are being used for applications where they are not appropriate.  Once a roadway has extensive longitudinal cracking thin surface treatments are not going to anything to prolong the life of the roadway by one single day.  Thin surface treatments are being used to cover up damage which if left unrepaired will result in water penetrating to the sub base and the road will fail. 

You simply cannot go in and do crack sealing and then cover the roadway with a thin surface treatment and claim that the road has been “fixed.” 

Here is what longitudinal cracking looks like:

February 26, 2015 at 12:11 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Weyland Duir

$180 a year is a bit steep for those on fixed incomes.  Last year I added a bit less than 3,000 to my odometer.  Under the Mayor’s proposal, it means I would be paying approximately $17 for every mile I drive.

February 26, 2015 at 9:46 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I think you got the math on that one a bit messed up.  At $180 & 3,000 miles per year you’d be paying 6 cents per mile.

February 26, 2015 at 9:55 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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He was calculating miles/dollar instead of dollars/mile.  So if he is driving a car that gets 34 mpg what this means is that he would be paying the same amount in taxes as if he were to pay an additional 50 cents/gallon at the pump.

For a person on fixed income it is a big hit no matter where it comes from.

February 26, 2015 at 10:38 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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It is all part of the problem of instituting a mileage fee for roads improvement.  People don’t like it and it limits commerce.  I always see this coming in as something attatched to property rather than use.

February 26, 2015 at 11:56 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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It is pretty clear at this juncture that the existing budget is not going to catch up to deferred maintence needs on city streets.  Any proposal that addresses the issue and locks the funding for road improvement should be persued.  If we have no plan to deal with the status quo, we deserve the streets we have.

February 26, 2015 at 9:51 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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“Any proposal that addresses the issue and locks the funding for road improvement should be pursued.”

If by “locks the funding for road improvement” you mean 100% legally constrained for use restoring, preserving and maintaining existing pavement I would have to say:  Ding, ding, ding - we have a winner here. 

My objection has been and continues to be that the City has tried every which way to bamboozle the public into voting to fund a new revenue stream that is NOT LEGALLY constrained and can in fact be used for practically any purpose regardless of how tangentially it relates to transportation. 

I, and 57% of the voting public were not willing to give the powers that be the benefit of the doubt and voted against Prop 1 primarily because of this flimflammery and will vote against any future proposal that does not 100% constrain all new monies as well as most existing transportation revenues for exclusive use in restoring, preserving and maintaining our existing pavement. 

There are legal obligations that demand that intersection crossings at existing sidewalk be made accessible, in a legal sense,  at the time roadway is overlaid and of course that would be included in what the constrained monies can be used for.

February 26, 2015 at 10:33 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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If the referendum language was specific to a protected tax or set aside that couldn’t be offset somewhere else, you’d be fine with it I’m hearing.  I don’t see how this is unattainable.  A roads excise tax would be the solution.  It is sort of the route to go given the declinging revenues of the gas tax.  It is just really in your face unpopular though to add new specific taxes.  A couple states have made this variable to the weight of the vehicle, so freight is more heavily penalized.  I figure all options are open at this point.

February 26, 2015 at 11:47 am / Reply / Quote and reply

5 | 0


If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times - Tacoma residents, particularly residential property owners, are going to have to pay to restore our asphalt and that is going to cost residents a bundle.  I accept that, and have made it clear that I would support a new funding mechanism if the new revenues are 100% legally constrained, AND a large portion of our existing transportation revenues, are dedicated exclusively and constrained by law to restoring, preserving and maintaining our existing asphalt.

There are a lot of new capital projects I would like to see planned, designed and built…but the last time I visited this topic, in 2013 I put it this way:  I would like to have a heat pump installed in my home, but we needed a new roof on our home too.  Today we have a new roof on our home and don’t have to worry about water destroying our existing infrastructure.  I don’t have that heat pump and subsequently will not be luxuriating in air conditioned comfort as I would like this summer - but I don’t have to worry about water leaking in and destroying our home either.

After my finances recover from the roof, I may get that heat pump.  Or I might not, bur regardless of whether or not I have a heat pump in my home I can sleep well knowing that water is not going to come in through the roof and destroy our home.  Had I gone out and bought a heat pump, and I could not go cash in a CD or borrow for the roof, I would be wondering if tonight is the night that the roof fails and tens of thousands of dollars of damage to our home results. 

For the last two plus decades Tacoma has had a preferential option for funding the new and exciting over maintaining the City’s existing infrastructure.  You can argue that if you wish, but the fact is that “deferred maintenance” was accepted practice to the degree that it became policy.  Deferring maintenance and using the “savings” to fund the new and exciting, or purely speculative was debated in Council meetings.  That is fact. 


February 26, 2015 at 12:45 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

5 | 1


Why should property owners be responsible for the taxes on restoring the streets.
It should be directly the motor vehicles owners that are responsible since they are using it and creating the problems like potholes and sometimes driving with winter chains that wreck the streets.There are property owners whom don’t own motor vehicles.

February 26, 2015 at 2:31 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Property owners should be responsible because streets are a shared resource.  We all use them for bike, pedestrian, car, transit oriented travel.  Taxing one mode is akin to making it a sin tax to drive.  Sin taxes being unsustainable (see liquor, cigarettes, ect).  We need somethign sustainable.  We already tax property taxes for parks rather than ask for admission through a users fee.  Roads are a common good, everyone should pay for them.

February 26, 2015 at 3:03 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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A reliable transportation network is also necessary to get food to the store, you to the hospital if you fall and break your back, new carpet delivered to your home, garbage and recyclables picked up etc.

February 26, 2015 at 3:26 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

6 | 2


Using motor vehicles is not sustainable (for a long term future here) because petroleum fuels are finate (they will become extremely rare and expensive by the mid 21st century)  and electrical energy is limited as well so you can’t replace hugely energy wasting inefficient ICE motor vehicles with huge energy wasting inefficient electrically powered ones.
There should be a big sin tax on motor vehicles because they are so destructive to the environment (major source of human based CO2 emissions)  are harmful directly or indirectly,injurious or deadly to humans,have uber expensive wasteful infrastructure that will be impractical in the future and push destinations father away because they take over half of a cities useful space.

February 27, 2015 at 2:46 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Neighborhood folks are irked about big public investments in downtown-area improvements.  Their irritation should be to wonder why almost every major private sector project, like the State Farm/Russell Investments Building and Pacific Plaza, required a public subsidy for a parking garage while the Tacoma Financial Center and Hotel Murano and Norton Clapp/Rhodes Center were only made viable with the infusion of federal Urban Development Action Grants.  The bottom line is that as America has moved toward a service-based economy that means container shipments have replaced many old manufacturing jobs on the Tacoma tideflats that commercial development downtown has by contrast languished, a stark comparison to Seattle where a robust central city commercial core has generated vital tax revenue to pay for public infrastructure.  Sure, the risk is if Tacoma ever developed a robust private sector-led downtown employment base is that neighborhood real estate prices might skyrocket.  Citizens, though, need to look at their property tax statements and then not express upset at the cost of public improvements downtown but to ask otherwise if the field of opportunity there has been sown why are the blocks at S. 13th and Pacific sprouting mere surface parking places when new office buildings would boost tax reciepts.  City government must find ways to grow the tax base in tandem with requests of the public for more tax dollars to improve basic neighborhood infrastructure.  The potholes problem is a mere symptom of greater political dysfunction in Tacoma.  Some studies assert public spending by the city cannot be sustained under current conditions.  Observe that four years ago Tacoma-founded Brown and Haley moved its corporate headquarters to tax-friendly Fife.  So be it that the candy is still made near the Tacoma Dome.  Brown and Haley, though, decided to take its expansion plans outside of the city limits, apparently quashing plans for a tourist-oriented headquarters factory complex like the one for Tillamook Creamery in Oregon.  Meanwhile, homeowners/voters share a big burden of property taxes in the dysfuctional business climate of Tacoma, where even the new B & O taxes on both Multicare and Franciscan mean those huge employers are probably directing any expansion plans toward suburban locations.

February 26, 2015 at 2:02 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

6 | 0


Tacoma has to be desireable before it will be profitable.  The downtown crumbling core looks quite nice now but more needs to be done.  There just needs to be a plan to extend the wealth out to other neighborhoods.  Amazon, Microsoft, ect. would never locate here because our sewer system is made out of wood and concrete and the roads look like those used in Mad Max.  Investments need to be made to attract business here.

February 26, 2015 at 2:11 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

5 | 1

Jim C

Great points here. Without jobs, “growth” is a hollow concept. I sometime marvel at the ability of the local government to acquire and spend gobs of money on projects meant for idlers like walking trails and bikeways while at the same time doing very little, appreciably, to transform the downtown core from a dumping ground for transients and criminals into an employment center.  It’s as if the citizenry’s leisure time is of more importance to the city than our ability to support ourselves by working.

February 26, 2015 at 2:57 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

5 | 0


$500 million dollars is basically $2,500 per every man,woman,child and infant in Tacoma.Motor vehicle infrastructure is insanity.Save all that money instead and abandon the lunatic automobile centric model.It is unsustainable for any future.
The streets should be only for humans and human powered vehicles.No need for huge 4 lane streets anymore.
Here is the answer.

February 26, 2015 at 2:39 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

1 | 1


Sounds like a past Utopia is calling:

They sought paradise in a Scottish field — and found hunger, boredom and mosquitoes

This one didn’t work out so well, but nature abhors a vacuum, and I am sure there is a place like this that you would feel right at home in.

February 26, 2015 at 3:45 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

4 | 3


So you prefer mass extinction in the short anthropocene due to everyone having and using Motor vehicles
.Here is a different set of better ideas and why the car culture is insanity.

February 27, 2015 at 1:26 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 0


February 27, 2015 at 1:42 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 0


I have made a PDR for the most current Pavement Assessment and Report.  Once I get my hands on that document I will be able to break it down and explain in layman’s terms what it is saying. 

That assumes that Tacoma actually has had a comprehensive Pavement Assessment and Report done and are not just pulling a number out of their ass.  Like they did in 2013. 

Here is where this is going:  The Report is going to lay out a number of scenarios and the funding necessary to achieve each scenario.  My guess is that $500M is the number assigned to going in and doing the job correctly.  What is commonly referred to in the industry as “the whole enchilada.” 

That is all well and fine, but what I suspect is that the Mayor and City staff, who are too smart by half, have said “let’s go to the voters with this number and get our hands on the additional $50M/year, but instead of spending all $50M on pavement restoration, preservation and maintenance… we can spend $35M if we cut corners and that will give us another $15M to use to continue funding pet projects.”

This “new money” would have to be constrained for exclusive use restoring, preserving and maintaining our existing pavement infrastructure and a large portion of existing “transportation” revenue streams would also have to be so constrained, BY LAW with the language drafted by an independent law firm who specializes in government contract law and not the City’s Legal Department before I would support giving the powers that be one more red cent.  This money would have to be so constrained that it could not be used for any other purpose than implementing the scenario that is laid out in the Pavement Assessment and Report that is used to justify this new funding mechanism as well. 

If the powers that be are sincere, there is absolutely NO REASON WHAT SO EVER that they should object to what I am saying needs to be in the package the voters are presented with.  Is there? 

No person in their right mind would vote to give the entity responsible for squandering the money we have already paid for maintenance and preservation of our pavement additional unconstrained dollars. 

I would also like to see a Street Utility created and placed under the purview of TCU. 

The City Council can still fund all of their hoopla and horseshit, they just would no longer have Tacoma’s share of State Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax revenues to do it with and the money would have to be taken from another program or a new tax levied on the residents to do it.  This would make the Council actually responsive to the voters when they are considering the “latest and greatest.”

February 27, 2015 at 8:48 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I would also like to see a Street Utility created and placed under the purview of TCU. 

I agree with the idea of a new ‘public streets utility (“Streets PU”) but such a new Tacoma Streets PU must have, I think, complete separation from present City of Tacoma Council, all other City Public Utilitie(s), and all sharing of any resources or oversight or computer systems with our present City of Tacoma governance.

Since, apparent to me, present City of Tacoma Utilitie(s) have shared money and resources benefit mixed or shared between ‘Utility Ratepayers’—-defined services received for money paid—-services (plus City utility Taxes collected on utilities) money and City of Tacoma General Government money—-must provide benefit back to all Citizens of Tacoma with Taxpayer and other fees collected—-received by General Government? Keep any proposed new Streets PU separated from City of Tacoma General Government, else we may never know where the Streets PU money might have gone?

Just thinking this new roads and street request for money might just go to supplement such projects such as described within article Dunkelberger, S. (2015). Waterfront makeover ideas take shape at Point Defiance. Tacoma Weekly. (that describes a new people bridge construction plan) Retrieved from Citation (Dunkelberger, 2015)?

February 27, 2015 at 9:47 am / Reply / Quote and reply

4 | 0


I agree JohnSherman, I totally see the City funneling the new street money to Pt. Ruston. I still don’t understand how the City thought it would be a good idea to build new condos and retail on the water with a whole bunch of vacant places spread around town already. I’m betting the new movie theater pushes an older one under….why can’t we just fix what we got? Without a tax increase?

February 27, 2015 at 10:47 am / Reply / Quote and reply

4 | 0


A combined street utility combined with the current utility is a great idea.  Maybe we could get a few power lines buried during street reconstruction so Tacoma can bring herself into the 1960’s finally.
For such a big measure to pass, the funds collected will have to be locked away in a fund exclusive to streets.  Otherwise, this type of measure will probably fail.

February 27, 2015 at 11:07 am / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 0


Yes sir!  Without absolute, 100% constraint on what the funds can be used for this type of measure will fail. 

And yes, if undergrounding were done concurrent with rebuilding streets Utility Ratepayers could and should pay a FAIR share.  That fair share part of the equation is important to remember though, the Utility share will be commensurate with undergrounding on streets that are in a certain existing condition and on a completely failed street it will be relatively modest contribution.  We would save some on design costs, mobilization, traffic control, project management and in other areas though over undergrounding as a stand alone project.

February 27, 2015 at 11:41 am / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 0



Take it from a person who has forecast this for well over a decade now (and tried to get the City to appreciate what they were setting us up for) - we simply cannot fix our pavement infrastructure problems with existing revenue sources. 

I wish we could, but it is an impossibility at this point.  When I first started pointing out to Council members, then Mayor Baarsma and City staff that while the money they were raiding out of City maintenance budgets is finite and falls within a limited range, deterioration is not linear and very soon after decisions are made to “deffer maintenance” the deterioration curve begins to diverge from what had been predictable and manageable and becomes exponential in form and unmanageable. 

We as residents are going to suffer for what these irresponsible buffoons have done.  That is a given, unless we want our City’s infrastructure to totally collapse, and from what I have heard from City employees there isn’t a day that goes by any longer that they are not responding to issues that have to deal with failed streets.  At this juncture the money we are spending isn’t even enough to keep up with the deterioration.

We simply are going to have to pony up and pay to have our pavement infrastructure restored, rehabilitated or whatever term you would like to use for rebuilding streets which have already failed completely or are already well on their way towards catastrophic failure. 

The issue really isn’t that we are going to have to pay, the issue is that our elected officials, appointed officials and City staff are looking at this crisis as an opportunity to exploit.  If they get their grubby little paws on any dollars that are not 100% legally constrained, they will squander them.  They simply cannot be allowed ANY discretion in programming these revenues or they will use them to fund more poet projects.  These people have a history. 

I’m warning City staff and elected officials, before you start opening your mouth regarding my past interaction with the City on this issue, I have the emails archived.

February 27, 2015 at 11:35 am / Reply / Quote and reply

4 | 2


I know that I have been monopolizing this topic, but I have been fighting this fight for a long time and with the education and background to add considerable insight to the subject. 

On top of that I am in contact with recently retired City staff and present City staff who let me know what is bothering them.  Do you think I went on the “Prop1 offensive” about a month ago just out of the blue?  I did not, I knew this latest campaign was coming.

I am not a pavement technician, but I am a licensed civil engineer and do work closely daily with them and I can get back up to speed on that subject pronto. 

I will share knowledge I have as a licensed Civil Engineer and try to put what is important to understand into layman’s terms so you can follow the discussion and have knowledge that will help you to understand what is being proposed, deconstruct the rhetoric think about it and come to your own conclusions.

I have been in the trenches fighting this fight for two decades, almost a decade and a half after recognizing that we as residents of Tacoma had to get out in front and change the paradigm because the tipping point was rapidly closing. 

I have a decade and a half of experience gained from being inside the local government apparatus in the City I work for and have heard all the arguments for “deferring maintenance” on pavement and I have listened to people with extensive experience discuss the pro’s and con’s at length. 

FYI, I work for a jurisdiction that has made tradeoffs and has “kicked the can down the road” BUT always with a commitment to not kicking the can over the cliff.  That “deferred maintenance” strategy CAN WORK.  A jurisdiction can take advantage of an opportunity that only comes along every once in a blue moon by deferring maintenance and “borrowing” from those funds.  Borrowing, got it? 

Tacoma’s strategy of an open ended policy of deferring maintenance every time a pet project is looking for dollars can never work.  And it is a POLICY, the Tacoma City Council has been actively involved in setting it. 

What I am getting at is: yes you can defer maintenance for a couple years and “rob Peter to pay Paul” for a short period of time, but that period has to be strictly limited and at the end of that period you have to be ready to forego opportunities that come up in the future and get your long range maintenance back on schedule, hopefully ahead of schedule with additional dollars to make up for the increased deterioration.  NO dissembling, NO if’s, and’s or but’s about it.  This takes discipline that Tacoma politicians just do not have and have not had in the last three decades.   

I am going to attempt to make an analogy that may help people without a civil engineering and transportation funding programming background to get their mind around what I am talking about when I talk about the deterioration curve of an asphalt street being critical to long term sustainability of a jurisdiction. 

What if I were to tell you that I will take a hundred thousand dollars cash, today, for a car I am selling or I will take a penny in my hand today, two cents tomorrow, four cents on Monday, eight cents on Tuesday, 16 cents on Wednesday and this will continue until this date next month and at that time you will own the car and I will sign the title over to you.

February 27, 2015 at 11:56 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

4 | 0


Since a month has about 30 days we will let the exponent equal 30. This means that after a month we will have 2^30 - 1 pennies. 

Well, 2^30 - 1 = 1,073,741,824 - 1 = 1,073,741,823 pennies. That’s more than a billion pennies!

If we divide this number by 100 (remember, there are 100 pennies in a dollar), we can find how many dollars this is:

1,073,741,823 divided by 100 = $10,737,418.23. That’s almost eleven million dollars!

If you cannot follow the math, you just have to believe me on this.  But the figures don’t lie.

Friends and neighbors, does this help you to understand where we are today?  Do you now understand why politicians are in panic mode?  Do you understand why I was have been in panic mode for over a decade now?

If not let me lay it out: I don’t have a calculator in front of me, but IIRC by the middle of the second week the hundred thousand bucks is surpassed. 

We have been at a point at which the cumulative deterioration to our pavement has been doubling in dollar value of what it will cost yearly now for a while. 

My guess is that this point was crossed about the time Tacoma stopped doing regular pavement assessments. 

Now I am going to go out on a limb and make accusations: I am going to say that my impression is that certain City staff knew this and knowing that Council members respond favorably, and promote, staff that tells them what they want to hear…. 

That being said, the Council is not off the hook.  It is THEIR responsibility to be informed and it impresses me that past and present City Managers colluded with certain City staff to not do a regular pavement assessment.  Like every two to tree years in order to allow Council to spend, spEND, SPEND mst of our available transportation revenues on “pet projects.” 

Let me say this too, it impresses me that Council members “ran with this” and spent in ways that their pet constituencies wanted while knowing all the while that they were not being fully informed.  Either that or they were to damn dumb, which is a definite possibility in Tacoma.  Again, in the former they were calculating that they had a patsy they could point fingers at.  In the latter, you elected these buffoons to represent your interests.  So, as Tacoma residents (in the aggregate) you are stuck with the consequences irrespective of whether you elected a conniving grafter or whether you elected an idiot.       

Without a paradigm shift in how our “transportation dollars” are programmed we are doomed to follow Detroit into the abyss. 

Easy for me to say, I have opposed every package our elected officials have come up with to address this issue?  Yes it is easy for me to say because I have looked at the dollars that the City had ask for in total and then looked at where those dollars COULD be spent, and looking at where our elected officials have programmed available dollars… the dollars spent on pavement rehabilitation, maintenance and preservation would have only shifted the date at which we were in the position we started paying the increased tax at by a few years.

What I am getting at is that a new funding mechanism without iron clad constraint on where those dollars can be spent, WITH language that excludes projects they absolutely CANNOT be spent on is an effort in futility. 

February 27, 2015 at 11:57 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 1


Go online and read the comments on KOMO, KIRO, The News Buffoon.  Tacoma politician have no credibility on this issue.  It is not just me.

February 28, 2015 at 12:00 am / Reply / Quote and reply

1 | 1


It is extremely rare to have a string of positive comments at The News Tribune.  In fact, just the other day there was an article about Over the Moon Cafe where the comments were about 75% nasty.  An article about Over the Moon is about as non-policical and “feel good” as a newspaper can get but still the vitriol… Even though that restaurant may indeed be Tacoma’s best.

March 1, 2015 at 9:03 am / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 1


It is extremely rare to have a string of positive comments at The News Tribune period. 

The News Buffoon destroyed the vibrant community of people who visited it’s website throughout the day to comment on stories, editorials and opinion.  It censored the comments it did not agree with, it banned anybody who pointed out the FACT that almost without exception, every time scandal visits Tacoma or Pierce County Senior Fellows from the American Leadership Forum are among the actors and it’s own staff were caught surreptitiously posting numerous times.

That being said, the commenting on this topic has been overwhelmingly skeptical, and rightly so in my opinion.

March 2, 2015 at 8:53 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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What the Mayor is proposing is a new “funding mechanism,” a new tax that will be sold as a way to fund what every poll they have commissioned in the last decade that asks residents what they see as our number one concern.  Pavement restoration.  Madam Mayor is setting up a “sucker play.” 

What has been being bandied about at City Hall is how to get voters to approve unconstrained “transportation” dollars that they can siphon off a percentage of and program any way they see fit. 

They are looking at this as a way to basically preserve the status quo, i.e. do just enough to stop the slide into the abyss, on almost all of our streets with the ability to tap the remainder to continue to fund pet projects. 

There MUST be a package passed soon or we as a viable community are doomed.  Never let a crisis go to waste is the model madam Mayor is the front person for. 

If The powers that be are wanting to preserve the status quo and do just enough to keep up with deterioration this can be done for about half the money they are asking the voters to approve.  So let them put that portion up to a vote and then let them put a separate package together to ask voters to fund pet projects.  BUT, be honest. 

I would vote yes on the former, if the dollars were100% LEGALLY constrained and there were absolutely NO ability for present or future Councils to change that.  I will simply not vote to give these, or future, scoundrels and grifters, ANY ability to fund future pet projects. Let them put a separate package together thet funds “pet projects” and let’s see how that does at the polls. 

It is not that I do not appreciate the value of discretionary amenities, but we, in the aggregate, as voters have been irresponsible and simply cannot afford that luxury any longer.  That being said, I do also believe that of the “pet projects” that have been delivered - I could not care less about at least 75% of them.  Ido not see then=m as a “greater good.” 

That means:  I would vote yes to preserve the status quo re: our existing pavement infrastructure and would vote hell NO! on additional discretionary projects UNTIL after our pavement has been restored.

Would I vote yes on a $500M package that was so legally constrained that it was impenetrable?  Yes, I want to see my neighbors that do not live on a street that is in the shape my street is in in front of their home.  I also want to be able to enjoy the pride that comes from living in a community that cares about maintaining it’s existing infrastructure.  And it shows. 

Here is what I am getting at:  What the mayor is selling is a vision of Tacoma’s pavement being what Renton would be proud of.  What the Mayor’s proposal would deliver is sub standard, half assed, patching and chip sealing that could be done for a percentage of the money she is asking for.

Let’s get something clear, Mayor Trickland could not care less about the pavement condition on the streets we live on and travel on UNLESS they are in a certain politically favored community. 

Let’s say I am exaggerating by a lot and they are actually going to spend 75% of the $500M on maintenance, preservation and reconstruction.  I am still unwilling to give City Council $125M to piss away on “pet projects.”  If there is a demand, let them fund pet projects by cutting other programs or RAISING TAXES with the electorate knowing why exactly their taxes are as high as they are.  Let them fund pet projects, or the matching money out of the General fund. 

I have no fundamental objection to the latest, the greatest and the wow this is fun.  I am all about that in my personal life.  But if I had a history of pissing away my family budget…. you do the math.  I do not have the taxpayers to turn to to ask for the money to go on a vacation to Tahiti if I have spent all that I can beg, borrow or steal at the casino every Friday night.  Actually, I have to get up every workday morning and go to work BEFORE I can consider how to spend the limited number of dollars I have EARNED.

I know that my home needs a maintenance and preservation budget.  I plan for that.  What if I were to say that those dollars could be “borrowed against” to fund something I really, really want and never paid my maint budget back back?  What if I said: let’s let the roof go another year? 

What if I did this for a decade and “borrowed” those dollars every Friday to head out to the casino?  What if I told you that Tacoma has been gambling our transportation dollars away for three decades? 

And now my roof is leaking and crisis is upon me.  Tacoma’s pavement is in such a condition that roadway failure is happening every day and crisis is upon the City. 

February 28, 2015 at 9:55 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Let’s say I go to my relatives and ask for enough money to fix my roof i.e. put a new roof on our home before the rain destroyed the structure beneath it.  Would my relatives not have knots in their head if they handed me cash needed for a new roof?  Of course they would.  I have a history to consider, all bets are that I would have minimal repairs done to ward off the immediate danger and then would say Ya Hoo I have money to fund a trip to the Emerald Queen on Fridays and when I finally hit I will get that new roof.Of course I would spend just enough to kick the can down the road. 

I really don’t care whether my intention of hitting it big and then not only putting the new roof on but also replacing the ailing furnace if I am the person who put up the money.  I care that my money was spent in the way it was asked for.  It was wasted.

February 28, 2015 at 9:56 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Conspiracy theories and personal attacks destroy your integrity.  You’ve proven you can share real, good, and important ideas.  Do that instead.

March 1, 2015 at 9:10 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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The date at which it was beyond irresponsible to concede “good intentions” on the part of City elected and appointed leaders and senior staff was behind us by the late 1990’s.  I am in constant contact with people in the transportation field and also frequently have conversations with recently retired City staff and current employees.  That is how I was aware that the City was scheming at a new source of revenues to fund purely discretionary capital projects. 

As far as conspiracy theories is concerned, did the last and present City Manager and Public Works Director inform the Council that they had decided to forego having a biennial or at least a triennial comprehensive pavement assessments done?  Was the Council brought up to speed regarding what the ramifications of not being aware of what the cumulative dollar value of restoring pavement deterioration is on a fairly consistent basis?  A comprehensive pavement assessment and report will provide this information.  A jurisdiction cannot be governed responsibly without those in policy making positions being aware of something as critical to a jurisdiction’s fiscal health as long range programming of pavement maintenance dollars.

Every City Manager and Public Works Director in American has to know this and I also am aware that this issue is something that gravely concerned Dick McKinley during his short tenure in Tacoma.  He had too much integrity to engage in what had been going on here and was being directed to perpetuate.   


March 2, 2015 at 8:45 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Mayor Strickland Announces $500 Million Plan to Fix All the Potholes

Plan Cancelled After Whole City Dies Laughing

March 1, 2015 at 10:15 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tacoma is not responsive in providing a current pavement assessment, so I am going to use some 2006 data I have which the City provided to FHWA when seeking funding in the past for this number:

Total paved and unpaved lane miles 2006—2,186

In 2009 it cost $130,240/lane mile to do a full depth structural overlay on an arterial street and $109,237/lane mile on an access street.  Let’s just use $120,000/lane mile average cost.

2,186 lane mi x $120,000/lane mile = $262,320,000

That is about half of the total number of dollars the Mayor is seeking.  The cost of asphalt has gone up a bit, but I used a high average cost per lane mile because we have many more access street lane miles than arterial miles of pavement.  Now consider this, not all of our pavement needs full depth structural overlay, so this quick calculation is probably high.

I have been saying that this is being sold as pavement restoration, preservation and maintenance - but is it?  It certainly looks like it is something else altogether.  Give up the Pavement Assessment I have asked for and I can definitively answer that question. 



March 2, 2015 at 12:05 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Not calculated in your above figure; center turn lanes, turn lanes at intersections, parking lanes that make a street twice as wide, sidewalks, trees, and everything else that goes with a street reconstruction.
A street may be one lane in each direction, but add two patking lanes and a center turn lane and you now have five lanes in width but only two “lane miles.”

March 2, 2015 at 4:15 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Cost/lane mile is average cost provided to do various treatments as provided to CRAB by Washington cities and counties through 2009. 

Again, what I used for cost would be FULL DEPTH STRUCTURAL OVERLAY on every lane mile in Tacoma.  We are not at that point YET.  Give Tacoma voters a few more election cycles and I am sure they could ensure that the Council will get us there.  Not every lane mile will need full depth structural overlay, quite a few won’t.  BUT there are a percentage of streets that require more. 

Why doesn’t the City just cough up the pavement assessment and report?  Is it that the Mayor was just using a number she pulled out of thin air?  Was it a number she thought would sound good?  Who knows.  I was promised in 2013 that the City had hired a pavement consultant to do an assessment and produce a report…  So where is it?

March 2, 2015 at 4:32 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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“Why doesn’t the City just cough up the pavement assessment and report?  Is it that the Mayor was just using a number she pulled out of thin air?”—JDH

The Mayor is simply a politician—-someone who is paid to say things that people want to hear. The implication of the street repair proposal, regardless of the lack of/or supply of adequate reasoned evidence, is that whatever the cost for street repairs, citizens will witness one of the largest “make work” programs in Tacoma’s history.

We have it on good authority that City Hall can be counted on to start Tacoma’s economic engines AND maintain them. Thanks City Hall!

March 2, 2015 at 10:36 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I got it, here is my response:

Gee, I would be interested in what level of confidence the City of Tacoma put in a single stand alone pavement assessment done ~ a half decade earlier as the sole basis for these 2010/2011 predictions which are described as being used to “simulate deterioration based upon the pavement management life cycle?” 

“In 2006/2007, the City of Tacoma collected pavement condition data in order to inventory and assess the condition of its streets. The data in the following sheets is not new data resulting from a pavement condition survey, but is the 2006/2007 data that has been aged (in 2010/2011) using computer models that simulate deterioration based upon the pavement management life cycle.”

What “computer models” would those be? 

To predict future pavement condition with any degree of accuracy demands that one look at the deterioration curve of that street segment A curve relies on (is defined by) three or more points.  The the very least one would need to consider at least a couple pavement assessments in order to make any kind of reasonably accurate prediction at all.  Would they not? 

There is also no “computer model” that I am aware of that models asphalt or Portland cement concrete streets that are not being maintained at a certain level.  A level that Tacoma admits is well above the level at which Tacoma had been providing leading up to, or since, the 2006 data being collected. It is accepted knowledge that the computer models that simulate deterioration become totally unreliable when pavement is having “maintenance deferred” and/or was already not structurally sound at the time the last assessment was done. 

On pavement that is not structurally sound the next cement mixer, fire truck or buss can and will cause total failure of the pavement.

What happened to the Pavement Assessment & Report that residents who attended Prop 1 outreach sessions were promised was in the works in 2013? 

Please respond

March 4, 2015 at 11:08 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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