(Image from the Baltimore Metropolitan Council)The voters of Tulsa County decided they really didn't need to increase sales taxes to fund a river park system. I've written about it previously, and I did not support the tax increase for reasons given here.
But as that title above asks, what comes next? Many voters are concerned about the sad condition of our local streets. Many of our bridges are in dire need of repair. But I don't live in the city of Tulsa. I'm a suburbanite. Still, I have to travel in Tulsa, so the streets and roads are part of my life too.
If I recall right, the cost estimate on doing the maintenance and construction would be four times that of the late river project, and that totaled $285 million. Where will the money come from?
Honestly, I could see Tulsa voting in a commuter tax on us suburb dwellers. These kinds of taxes are usually popular because they aren't levied on residents. Instead, out-of-towners, who can't vote in the election, are taxed to support city services. If it weren't an onerous tax, I wouldn't mind paying it. But I'd certainly expect to see good roads in return for my money.
Yes, I'm probably a hopeless dreamer.
Good roads benefit everyone, motorists and cyclists alike. Signalized intersections that reliably detect bicycle riders should be the norm, not a rarity. And while Tulsa and surrounding communities do have signals that trip for cyclists, far too many signals do not operate as they are designed to. And when you consider that some signals in downtown Tulsa are nearly 80 years old, well past their design life, and that a 'simple' signalized intersection costs about $100K dollars, you can see that tax money can be stretched thin in a hurry.
So, are there other way to fund streets? I know there must be, but I'm not versed in public finance. Any suggestions?
As my crew chief is fond of saying, "There ain't any one of us as smart as the rest of us put together!"