Tacoma roads in peril after voters reject Proposition 1

TACOMA, Wash. -- In Tacoma, the fate of miles and miles of city and residential streets is uncertain after residents voted down Proposition 1 on Tuesday.

The ballot measure would have generated $10 to $11 million annually by increasing the earnings tax on utility companies for the sole purpose of neighborhood street improvements and safety upgrades.

But the problem remains: damaged and deteriorating roads and not enough money to fix it.

"We have a significant issues with our street system and pot holes are obviously a big part of that," said Kurtis Kingsolver, who is the interim Public Works Director for the City of Tacoma.

City officials say there are 18,000 potholes peppered along roadways in nearly every Tacoma neighborhood. Patching a pothole costs the city around $240 dollars.

"It looks like someone threw a grenade, tossed it, and said how many holes can we create in the road," said Rob Lencioni, a Tacoma resident who voted "yes" on Proposition 1.

According to city officials, the cost for current residential road repairs in Tacoma is approximately $800 million. But after voters rejected the city measure there's not enough funding to make all the planned improvements.

"It's disappointing," said Kingsolver. "We were looking forward to doing a lot of work for the citizens of Tacoma and I really believe they deserve good streets."

City leaders say they don't yet have a plan to do to make repairs to the countless cracking and crumbling streets despite the lack of funding.

"I wish I could tell you there was a plan b," said Kingsolver. "I can tell you the city council, the mayor, and the city manager are committed to trying to find resources to solve this problem. But it's a difficult problem to solve."

Kingsolver said the City of Tacoma would like the state to authorize the city to have their own street maintenance utility, though similar attempts have failed in the past.

In the meantime, many residential roadway will remain damaged until some short of funding can be worked out.