Recently my Rotary Club received an overview of how the city is addressing the transportation needs in our community. We were all impressed with the transparency presented by our city representatives. The 2020 GO Bond Program was the topic. I did not realize that GO bonds explicitly preclude funding basic street repair and upkeep. It does not take pages of committee reports and planning documents to realize that the vast majority of residents drive cars to get around town and our roads are in serious need of repair. I have never spoken to anyone who says our roadways are in decent condition.

It is my understanding that road maintenance in Bend never recovered from the recession of the 1980’s and shorter recession in 1990. Like repairs on an aging house, if you don’t continually maintain it, the house will eventually fall apart. I feel like the GO Bond Program is trying to add brand-new additions to a city system of roads that are in drastic need of basic repair. We are currently in the midst of adding new roadways that will require maintenance down the line. The city wants to do this when we cannot even maintain our existing infrastructure. Potholes that can swallow a car are everywhere. Sunken manhole covers are a jarring reminder of the need for basic upkeep, and almost every intersection on Third Street needs be completely rebuilt. Roadways in every section of the city are crumbling.

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Tom Combs lives in Bend.

(3) comments


What ever finance scheme is settled on for City street repair, it should include a clear mechanism for tourists to pay their fair share for road wear and tear.


Hey Tom:

I, too, am looking forward to learning more from city staff and councilors this year about Bend’s funding for building, maintaining, and replacing roadways into the future. In preparation for my last essay, I read a bunch of city resources about transportation and budgets. In combination with resources I found on the Strong Towns website, my takeaway hunch (just a hunch as I’m no expert) is that it is common for growing cities to actually not fully fund infrastructure maintenance and replacement from user fees and property taxes. Instead, they fund maintenance via population growth—SDC’s and taxes from new residents to make up for funding shortfalls. And/or—which is true of Bend—they bank on state and federal funding for projects as well as delaying projects (you can see Bend’s backlog in the city’s Transportation System Plan report). Strong Towns calls it a Ponzi scheme, which is why infill densification is so important to Bend’s future (less sprawl means fewer new roads to build and maintain).

Long and Variable

The man's not wrong.

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