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State of the City: “More Than Potholes… Deep Repairs…”
On February 25 Mayor Strickland gave her State of the City Address for 2015. Following up on last year's "Tacoma 2.0" theme, the Mayor's theme this year was "Tacoma Rising;" a nod to the fact that while things are looking up, there's still work to be done. Strickland challenged all Tacomans to "do the heavy lifting" needed; to put the greater community good above our own individual needs.
The Mayor covered a lot of ground in her 30 minute speech - a lot of the points we expect from the State of the City - positioning Tacoma as rising, but with room for improvement: Unemployment is dropping, but still higher that in Seattle. Graduation rates have seen significant increases, but our schools can do more to prepare Tacoma's young people. The City has invested in infrastructure improvements, but there is still a lot to do, particularly when it comes to the condition of Tacoma's roads.
This last point has gotten the most attention out of the Mayor's speech, thanks to a new proposal she introduced to address the serious need to fix Tacoma's failing roads.
"I'm not going to call it 'potholes,' because our streets need deep repair."
The Mayor promised that her new proposal would touch every street in Tacoma in some way. Streets rated "excellent" or "good" will get routine maintenance and crack seal. Streets rated "fair" will get chip seal and surface treatments. Streets rated "failed" or "poor" will get a new street, grind and overlay. And Tacoma's remaining gravel roads will get a "two on two overlay."
The plan will cost $500 million over 10 years. Full details on funding mechanisms are yet to be announced, but the Mayor did say that it will cost roughly $15 per household per month over those 10 years. That's no small price tag, but, Strickland observed, "these streets aren't going to fix themselves, and we can't close libraries, fire stations, or police departments to pay for the repairs" needed after decades of neglect.
Street repairs weren't the only issue the Mayor highlighted in this year's speech. We heard about support for veterans, programs aimed at global connections, Tacoma's innovative schools, the City's equity and empowerment initiative, plans for appealing to visitors during the US Open and beyond, and a goal of making Tacoma the country's most digitally literate city.
We heard about a Tacoma that is evolving, improving, rising. Mayor Strickland called on everyone to roll up their sleeves and contribute to the work needed to keep it going in that direction.
"Let's go out there and make 2015 one of the best years ever."
Are you ready?
Watch the full 2015 State of the City Address now on YouTube:
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