ARLINGTON — The Transportation Benefit District Board workshop meeting on May 2 kicked off with some expressed concerns about the news coverage to date of the upcoming TBD ballot resolution, with Arlington City Council member Steve Baker worrying that the phrases “street improvements” and “street maintenance” could send the wrong message.
“What we should be emphasizing is that this is about the preservation and repair of our roads,” Baker said of the TBD ballot resolution, which would ask Arlington voters to approve a 0.2 percent increase in the city’s sales tax, yielding as much as an additional $600,000 a year, to address the failing and near-failing segments of 126 roads for which the city is responsible.
Baker went on to call for more clarity in the ballot resolution’s language regarding those road segments, so that voters would understand that portions of those roads were failing or near-failing, rather than the entire roads.
“If it sounds like you’re saying the whole road is unsafe, but several blocks look fine, people are going to say the road is good,” Baker said.
“There’s no real uniformity in the segments that are deteriorating,” Arlington Assistant City Administrator Kristin Banfield said. “It ranges from half a block to multiple blocks, depending on the roads.”
Arlington City Council member Marilyn Oertle emphasized the preservation angle, even to the point of retaining certain parts of those roads to ensure eligibility for grant monies, and agreed with fellow Council member Debora Nelson that the city’s website should include a map illustrating all the specific segments of city roads that are failing or near-failing. While the TBD Board acknowledged that the sales tax increase would not necessarily cover all the costs of addressing those road segments, city of Arlington Public Works Director Jim Kelly deemed those funds essential for securing grants that could make up the difference.
“If we don’t invest in pavement preservation, it pushes our grant score way down,” said Kelly, who cited the significant percentages of federal grant monies that have been set aside exclusively for pavement preservation. “If we don’t capitalize on those funds, we lose out.”
Kelly also clarified how the prioritization of road segments most in need of being addressed was determined according to the Pavement Condition Index, the types and severities of pavement distresses, and the classifications of the city’s 167 lane miles of paved road surfaces, under the categories of arterials serving 6,000 or more vehicles daily, collectors serving 751-6,000 vehicles daily, or streets serving 750 or fewer vehicles daily.
During the May 6 TBD Board meeting, the ballot resolution and explanatory statement for the voters’ guide will be submitted for approval, and members are set to be appointed to the committees to draft the pro and con statements for the voters’ guide, so that the ballot resolution, explanatory statement, and names of the pro and con committees can be transmitted to Snohomish County Elections staff no later than May 10. The pro and con committees must submit their statements to County Elections staff by May 24, and their rebuttal statements by May 28, for the ballot resolution in the Aug. 6 primary election.