$10 million more slated for Houston road repair

A proposed increase in the city?s road repair budget comes after ABC-13 reported sharp declines in pothole filling, street repaving (KTRK)
May 13, 2014 4:14:08 PM PDT
Saying they wanted to "get the backlog back under control," Houston public works officials said Tuesday they are asking for a $10.6 million increase for road repairs in the city's 2015 budget.

If approved by City Council, the money would mean a 25 percent increase in the city's road repair budget over last year and the first such hike seen in more than a decade.

Public Works Deputy Director Eric Dargan said the cash boost was badly needed.

"We need it as bad as the public thinks we need it," Dargan told ABC-13. "We need to respond to their requests in a timely manner and do a good, efficient job in the process. We need it badly, we need reconstruction badly, we need maintenance badly."

The announcement of this potential boost of money to help repair Houston's pothole-ridden and scarred roads comes in the wake of an ABC-13 report showing a sharp decline in city road-paving.

That report from earlier this month uncovered that curbside-to-curbside road paving had dropped markedly over the past five years. Around 140 miles of Houston's roads were paved this year, compared to nearly 280 miles paved in 2008, a 53 percent decrease.

Also, ABC-13 found that the number of concrete panels used to replace sections of fractured and cracked streets dramatically declined, as well as the number of potholes filled.

And while Houston taxpayers have been shelling out extra fees since the 2010 Rebuild Houston vote, designed to raise more money for drainage and street repair in the city, ABC-13 found that the city has done far less repaving and concrete work since before the drainage fee was approved at the ballot box.

Dargan said the budget increase will come from those Rebuild Houston fee funds.

And with an additional $10.6 million, Houston drivers should see a dramatic uptick in road repair. In part, the additional funding will go toward:

  • 36 additional lane miles of asphalt repaving;
  • 75 road repair panels. Those are 10 foot by 180 foot long road fixes for large section of streets; and
  • Enough money for nearly 9,000 additional patches to fix street craters bigger than potholes ? that's 30-percent more patches than this year.
Those knowledgeable about Houston's roads welcomed the announcement of additional money.

Albin Jose works at a gas station on the corner of Shepherd Drive and Westheimer Road. He says he's seen his share of cars limping into the station after hitting jagged potholes.

"Sometimes, it's pretty bad actually," he said. "Their car will stop working because it goes off axle."

Jose welcomes the news of more road repair money.

"I think it's great," he said. "A lot of people would save money" on car repairs.

Art Huerta lives in the Upper Kirby area, and likens driving and trying to avoid potholes to an "obstacle course."

"It's an encouraging sign," he said of the proposed budget bump for road fixes.

The money will likely be included in Mayor Annise Parker's proposed budget that City Hall said would be presented this week.

City Council will debate the city's 2015 budget and the road repair increase over the next few weeks. A vote will come soon after.

That money couldn't come soon enough for city road crews who have a long list of projects that need attention. Dargan said the Public Works Department easily has far in excess of $10 million worth of projects ready for work.

"But right now $10 million is a great start," Dargan said.