Mayor Strickland to Announce Plan to Fix Potholes

We know not everyone camps out overnight to get tickets to Tacoma's State of the City address, but if potholes are your thing, you may want to pay attention this year.

When Mayor Strickland gives the big annual speech at 11:30, she will talk about Tacoma 2025, economic development, education, international relations, broadband Internet access, transportation, and President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” Challenge. We're hearing this week that she will also announce a new ballot measure to do something about all those potholes.

The Mayor is keeping the details of her proposal quiet until the State of the City, but the TNT reports that although she may or may not share an actual dollar amount today, she will announce a ballot measure she hopes to send to the voters in November. This won't be the first time the City has attempted to raise funds for street work - voters turned down a 2013 ballot measure that would have added a 2% tax to the earnings of natural gas, electric and phone utility companies. That tax was forecast to bring in $10 to $11 million per year for local street repairs. It was a no-go, and for the last two years the potholes have continued more or less unchecked.

Registration for the event is closed, and it won't be broadcast live, but if we're lucky someone will live tweet it. Follow #SOTC253 on Twitter. Have opinions? You're encouraged to engage in the conversation on Twitter too.

The theme of this year's address will be "Tacoma Rising." Will the Mayor's proposal rise to the challenge of fixing Tacoma's potholes?

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What she is proposing is analogous to putting down fresh carpet over a rotten floor.  It is designed to last as long as the current crop of politicians are in office and provide them cover.  In this case, it will not even last that long, too many of our streets are in such pathetic condition that placing fresh asphalt on top of what lies beneath is a waste of asphalt. 

The problem is that as a direct result of neglect (deferred maintenance) Tacoma’s streets have failed and cannot be repaired, they need to be rebuilt.  Water has penetrated into the sub grade of the roadways through pavement which has failed that has been left un-addressed and when that happens a “pumping action”  takes place each time a vehicle passes over the failure which caries fine material up (silt and clay material) up into the crushed rock roadway base.  Once a critical mass of fine material is present in the base course the crushed rock can no longer lock against itself and carry a load.  At the point at which we see a “birdbath” develop the roadway base course has failed and in order to repair the failure you have to cut back beyond the point at which fine material has infiltrated the base course material, excavate that material and replace it with new crushed rock/sand and then compact that before laying fresh asphalt.  Anything less is a sham.

February 25, 2015 at 8:57 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Your comment above is three hours before any details of the proposal were made to the public.  Interesting how you’re against the Mayor’s proposal before she even had a chance to explain what she wanted to do.

February 26, 2015 at 7:57 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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If the truth be known I have known about this scheme for about a month now and have been commenting on it. 

The City is trying to extract additional revenues to continue to fund Tacoma’s version of the Concord Fallacy by stating that new revenues will be used for pavement rehabilitation, maintenance and preservation.  The problem is these revenues would once again be UNCONSTRAINED in the legal sense and could be used in any way for any project. 

57% of voters understand what that dynamic represents last time they tried this and voted against Prop 1.  The City of Tacoma has no credibility on this issue and the reason the City has no credibility is because they have not been truthful.  They are not being forthcoming in this latest proposal either.  They have been desperately trying to craft language that will allow unlimited flexibility on how new revenues would be spent while making it sound as if the they would be constrained for use on rehabilitation, preservation and maintenance of our existing pavement.

February 26, 2015 at 8:25 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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You know Hasty, you’re an interesting character on these boards.  You seem to dedicate a lot of time to investigating city issues and to commenting here. 
Most of the time, I think your contributions are negative.  Most comments read like a curmudgeonly old man.  You claim to speak “for the people” like in this comment above, for instance, or you “have it on good authority” as you say elsewhere on this thread.  You drop references to the “Concord Fallacy” or some conspiratorial leadership foundation with no explanation of what you’re talking about or citing where you get your information from. 
(The Concord Fallacy , by the way, is the tendency to factor sunken costs into future financial decision-making; it has nothing to do with unconstrained funding mechanisms as your statement above claims.  Or at least, I don’t see how you are connecting the two.)

And then of course, there are your frequent statements of contempt and personal attacks.

Yet sometimes you do actually raise a good point.  Such as the effect of different vehicle types on the pumping effect underneath a roadway.  That was good information, as was the suggestion to look up “asphalt fatigue failure.”

I think you should create a blog where you can explain your theories and opinions in full detail.  Cite your sources or reasons you hold your opinions, and put forth your own alternative.  (People who only know how to complain and can’t propose a plan of their own are worse than useless, imo.)  I would read it.  Even if I disagree with everything you have to say, I still respect someone who can put forth a well reasoned point of view.

But I don’t think you will.  First, I don’t think you have a comprehensive theory of everything.  I believe that all you know how to do is complain, but can’t explain what you think should happen (on a broader scale here, I’m not just talking about roads).  Second, I don’t think you really care about making your ideas known, you don’t make much effort to support your ideas or inform people for their benefit.  Rather you shout and rant and lash out at people. 

Think about it.  It would give you a better forum for your opinions and free up space on these boards a bit.

February 26, 2015 at 10:27 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Or I could continue to comment in various forums and people who want to consider what I have to say can read what I write and those who are not interested in what I have to say can skip over it.

February 26, 2015 at 10:58 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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You could do both. 

You’re obviously very emotional about your opinions, you commit a lot of time and energy to making them known here.  Why not develop your ideas in long form on a blog, rather than bitch and moan on a comment board?  If what you have to say is so important, isn’t it worth explaining in full?

You’d still come here and comment, but you could include a link to a full article to back you up.

February 26, 2015 at 11:27 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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There is a reason responsible cities do not allow pavement to deteriorate and allow it to go unrepaired until the street itself fails.  Once you do that you have to go in and pick up the existing asphalt and recycle it, then you have to excavate down and remove all of the base course material (and since you cannot sort it on site in an urban environment) haul it away and replace it with fresh base course material. 

This City’s moronic policies of the last two to three decades have destroyed many of Tacoma’s streets and unless the City embarks on a serious program of pavement maintenance and preservation more streets are going to fail soon.  Unfortunately what this charlatan is proposing is not a serious proposal to restore and maintain our pavement.  It is window dressing.

February 25, 2015 at 9:04 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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would love to see the best for Tacoma.  Hopefully her street maintenance proposal is something that can actually pass.
I wish they could use the utility to raise rates outside of Tacoma to get the money needed to do lots of big projects.  Current rates at TPU are about 30% less than surrounding utilities - so there’s opportunity there to keep rates below competitors but cash in on it enoughto raise the big money needed for Tacoma’s horrible roads.

February 25, 2015 at 10:37 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Whatever source the revenue comes from is irrelevant, I have it on good authority that what Tacoma’s politicians and the City management have been up to, once again, is to try to hoodwink voters into thinking they are voting to increase taxes in order to fund restoration, preservation and maintenance of our existing pavement infrastructure.  The problem is the same as it was last time around, they are looking at a new “funding mechanism” to fund new capital projects other than restoration, preservation and maintenance of our existing pavement. 

They have absolutely no credibility left on this issue.

Residents recognize the fact that without a paradigm shift in how ALL transportation revenues are programmed in this city that our infrastructure is going to continue to deteriorate at a rate faster than maintenance is keeping up.  The Catch 22 is Tacoma residents have also come to realize that the current crop of politicians as well as the staff responsible for programming our transportation dollars are simply uninterested in restoration, preservation and maintenance of our existing pavement.  They are looking for a new revenue stream so that they can continue to fund everything from abject nonsense to over the top discretionary projects. 

I am also going to speculate that Jesse is not paying Jesse’s “fair share” of what it costs to provide local government services.  I would wager that Jesse is living in a residence that is taking advantage of tax abatement and by default that means Jesse is freeloading off tax paying residents of the City already.  Now Jesse is looking to have Utility ratepayers foot the bill for restoring pavement that politicians and policies and practices that he personally endorse have caused to fail. 

February 25, 2015 at 1:23 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Furthermore, this irresponsible buffoon is so negligent with her own family budget that when she was found to be the first Tacoma Mayor to have been in violation of ethics rules and ordered to repay a modest amount (somewhere between $1,500 and $2K IIRC) she announced to all and sundry that she would repay the money, but would have to wait for her tax refund to do so.  This woman has absolutely no concept of what it means to be fiscally responsible.

February 25, 2015 at 1:31 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Thank you for the personal attack. 

Btw, I pay the highest possible tax bracket.

February 25, 2015 at 1:47 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Jesse, he’s only accused you of living in a home with real estate tax abatement. That’s nothing! He suggested that I was a convicted felon on a previous thread. Enlightened individual. Can’t say that I’m not entertained.

February 25, 2015 at 2:17 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Winners talk about ideas.  Losers talk about other people.

February 25, 2015 at 2:30 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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And Jesse is trying to make it sound like Jesse is paying a “fair share” of what it costs to support local government services by stating that Jesse is paying “the highest possible tax bracket,” what ever that means.  What Jesse’s claim of paying “the highest possible tax bracket” has to do with the program the City of Tacoma offers regarding property tax exemption is anyone’s guess.  As for me, it impresses me that there is an attempt by Jesse here to side step the issue of freeloading.

As for James, some residents of the county do have to answer a call for jury duty and others don’t have to concern themselves with that.  Depending upon a person’s status as a convicted felon, one might not have to be concerned about that.  I never insinuated or suggested that anyone in particular, including you, are affected by that dynamic.  I was just stating that residents of the County do need to visit this building for any number of reasons and that the building should be as convenient to all residents of the County as possible.

February 25, 2015 at 3:06 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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JohnShermanRegistered should create an article about how Tacoma streets potholes make the list to become repaired after reported—-for example; pothole not reported by citizen then no pothole repair! That’s it ... street problems must be reported first, because the City is not looking for your poor potholed streets.

See City of Tacoma street pothole repair reporting process available at

February 25, 2015 at 3:05 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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February 25, 2015 at 3:05 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Does the City even have a current pavement condition assessment?  If so, let’s see it.

February 25, 2015 at 3:11 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Those responsible for creating the potholes should be the ones whom should be taxed for repairing them not like landline phone users or others.
Heavy commercial and construction vehicles should be taxed the most since they are responsible for much of the damage,then heavy trucks,vans and SUV’s. Lighter passenger vehicles should be taxed less.Motocycles and scooters the least.
Tax by vehicle weight and be fair tax especially more if its’s for business (commercial) reasons as they are heavy users.Non motorists should pay nothing at all and shouldn’t subsidize those that are responsible.
Tax the vehicles since they are responsible.Placing the tax burden on others is unjust.

February 25, 2015 at 4:36 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Using your calculation public transit riders would be taxed at near the highest rate.  You are correct in that heavy vehicles are responsible for a greater share of the damage than are lighter vehicles - but you are leaving out the fact (all too conveniently, for the sake of your proposition I might add) that passenger cars and light trucks cause practically no deep structural damage what so ever to asphalt roadways and even less to concrete streets.  Busses, on the other hand are a major contributor to structural failure of paved roadways. 

You simple cannot get away from this dynamic regardless of how many twists and turns you try to make along the way.  Heavy loading that causes flexure is where deep structural failure comes from and asphalt pavement is a flexible material that suffers from fatigue in direct response to heavy point loadings that cause cyclic displacement and a subsequent return to an at rest state. 

Minor displacement, such as that caused by passenger cars and light trucks simply does not cause enough displacement to be a significant contributing factor to structural damage to asphalt roads. 

You are right, it is the cement trucks, moving vans, concrete mixers, garbage trucks, fire trucks and other heavy vehicles that cause almost 100% of the structural damage to urban roadway and in studies done we always find that of the heavy vehicles that contribute to structural failure of urban asphalt BUSSES are at the top of the list. 

Therefore if we were to use your calculus it naturally follows that people who take the buss should be charged the highest rates. 

February 25, 2015 at 8:39 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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For anyone who wants to understand more on this subject type three words: fatigue, failure and asphalt into a search engine and there is a lot available that a lay person can follow.  There is a lot that is not something a lay person will be able to fully appreciate too, but you will be able to follow concepts such asphalt fatigue failure being most definitely a function of strain and the number of cycles being inversely related to the point of failure.  If strain is great then the number of cycles is low before failure occurs and when strain is low the number of cycles is high before failure occurs. 

Strain and number of cycles are NOT linear in their inverse relationship as contributors to fatigue failure.  Heavy vehicles like busses can make a relative few trips before structural failure occurs, whereas passenger trucks and light trucks can make an order of magnitude or higher number of trips over the same roadway without causing any deep structural damage.

February 25, 2015 at 9:06 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Correction: passenger cars and light trucks can make thre, four, five or even greater order of magnitude number of trips over the same asphalt roadway without causing deep structural damage. 

February 26, 2015 at 5:16 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Bill Johnston

Any tax to care for streets should be on cars and trucks.  They were doing this in Hampton, Virginia when I was stationed at Langley AFB in 1969.  If you use it you should pay for it.  It is the reason I voted against the last proposal and I am generally a “yes” vote on infrastructure etc.  Why should road repair be on a utility bill - stupid!

$10 fee/year when you renew your tabs…easy to do and easy to collect….cheap sticker on the window.

But hell - that’s too simple for the bureaucrats in the basement at city hall isn’t it?!?!

February 25, 2015 at 7:07 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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The City just grabbed another $20/year on car tabs and will piss that down the same downtown redevelopment district rathole as they have every stinking dollar they could raid from each and every maintenance shop in the City for the last two decades.

You are living in a dream world if you think this is about revenue for pavement restoration, preservation and maintenance.  It’s not, they are looking for a fresh revenue stream to fund more nonsense. 

Go and check out the link top the Prop 1 vote and everything I wrote there still holds.  This money would be totally unconstrained and damn little of it would find it’s way to pavement restoration, preservation and maintenance. 

That is just the way it is.  I have been hearing about this for the last month or so and that is why I have been pointing back to Prop 1 and the dissembling that was going on in that maneuver by the City.  Nothing has changed.

February 25, 2015 at 7:52 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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June 3, 2018 at 4:35 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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