Wednesday, September 18, 2013
The traffic delays in Walla Walla this summer have been, at most, a minor inconvenience to drivers.
Navigating around the road construction on Rose Street to Myra Road to State Route 125 is far easier (and more enjoyable) than attempting to avoid the potholes that mar too many of the city’s streets. Pleasant Street, too, is a flurry of activity.
The flurry of street work is fantastic.
It is exactly what taxpayers were promised when they approved the plan to boost the sales tax by 0.2 percent to add $1 million a year to the city’s road construction fund. Work on the pipes under those streets is financed by a different tax.
We should all be looking forward to be inconvenienced by more road work in 2014.
Many of Walla Walla’s streets remain really lousy and an embarrassment to the community, but that is to be expected. It will take a long time to improve the many streets that have been neglected for far too long.
Some in the community have been irked, even offended, by the city’s $16,000 program to keep citizens informed on its progress in fixing the potholes and alerting the public to road closures and detours
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, the Union-Bulletin did benefit from selling advertising space to the city for the public relations program. Nevertheless, we still believe it benefited the community.
Communicating with the public to reduce frustration is important. The website (gowallawalla.us) lets people know what road work is takng place and what is next.
The signs — “Hello Progress ... Goodbye Potholes” — serve to highlight the work being done (and the U-B has no financial interest).
These signs, the ads and utility bill inserts direct citizens to the website where details of the construction can be found.
Many of the critics of the signs say it is obvious to citizens the city is using the new sales tax money to fix those streets.
Perhaps for some, but not all.
The reality is most people don’t think about who is funding a construction project when they pass by or are forced to take an alternate route. When a sign let’s them know, it leaves an impression.
The city has taken a lot of heat for at least the past three decades — and with good reason — for the way it’s tacitly allowed the streets to crumble. Other needs seemed to get the funds.
When the public agreed to be taxed to fund a long-term program to overhaul the streets, the city had to show it could do the job — and do it right.
The city is off to a good start in bringing Walla Walla’s streets up to acceptable standards.