Cities can’t afford their roads anymore

It’s not hard to figure out which cities in these parts take care of their infrastructure and which ones just — as they say — “kick the can down the road” from year to year until bigger fixes they can’t afford are required.

Sure, it was a lousy winter that was perfect for potholes. But this year’s potholes are also last year’s potholes which were fixed with Band Aids. Some cities have worse potholes than others because some cities have no choice but to let roads go to pot.

Typically, residents would rise up against the roadway negligence, but, as the Star Tribune points out today, there’s a penalty for doing so given St. Paul’s method (used by many cities) by which major street repairs are financed: they hit the residents, who are already paying property taxes, with high assessments.

But why should residents pay so much for roads that are “arterial”, of greater use for drivers who don’t live in the neighborhoods being assessed?

In Maplewood, meanwhile, Bill Perditzman got tired of the roads more fit for a war zone. He started fixing the streets himself, the Pioneer Press reports.

Bags of asphalt were on sale at Menard’s, he says. So he bought 27 of them at $6.95 a bag. Some neighbors chipped in.

It’s not a permanent fix, of course. The streets have reached a point where they need to be repaved. But it’s better than nothing.

Maplewood City Council member Maplewood City Council Member Bryan Smith says this is what happens when people are upset both about high taxes and poor roads. (Cities don’t get much from the state’s gas tax)

And the public works director in the city provides the same math that St. Paul struggles with. It has 135 miles of road, and money to repave about 3.5 miles of them a year.

Maplewood is also considering a new funding mechanism.

Assessing residents.

Related: This commentary is really boring. I hope you read it (Star Tribune)