If you’re wondering why some streets in Ahwatukee and throughout Phoenix look like minefields and can’t get repaired, so are some members of the City Council.
There’s just not enough of them to do much about it, apparently.
Last week, Interim Mayor Thelda Williams and Vice Mayor Jim Waring – with support from Councilman Sal DiCiccio – withdrew a request for a study to determine whether some future light rail projects could be delayed so that bonds could be issued to accelerate street repair schedules.
The reason: Their five colleagues on the Council, including two candidates for mayor, wouldn’t back off their earlier refusal to go along with the request.
Transportation 2050 is the voter-approved plan that dedicates a 7/10ths-of-a-cent sales tax to building and repairing streets, extending light rail and implement other transportation infrastructure projects over 35 years. Over those 35 years, the city projects an estimated $16.7 billion in revenue in addition to another $14.8 billion generated from federal and county funds, passenger fares and other sources.
Williams and Waring first introduced their request at the Council’s June 24 meeting, which DiCiccio did not attend because he was out of town.
“Many Phoenix roads are in serious need of repair,” Williams and Wearing had told City Manager Ed Zuercher in a letter three days before the meeting, stating that even with the Transportation 2050 money available right now, “the schedule to service many roads falls unacceptably short.”
They asked for an evaluation of the plan’s revenues so that future light rail projects could be adjusted so that the city could float bond issues and accelerate the road repair schedule and meeting “the urgent needs of the community.”
After five Council members voted down their request, Williams and Waring had placed it on the July 5 agenda, then pulled it because none of the five – including mayoral candidates Kate Gallego, who has not yet officially declared her candidacy, and Daniel Valenzuela, who last week announced he would be resigning to run for mayor.
“I would have supported it to keep the ball moving forward,” said DiCiccio, a vocal critic of the city’s infrastructure and its light rail expansion plans. “However, it’s amazing to me that staff does not already have this information readily available.
“Think about it, they don’t know how much money they have available?” he added. “If it’s true it just tells you the real shape of the city of Phoenix and if it’s readily available then why are they hiding it?”
DiCiccio said he has met with several attorneys “to see about doing what the establishment politicians and staff refuse to do – put a citizen initiative forward moving the billions in future light rail monies to fix all of our roads and hire more police.”
“We will need 23,000 valid signatures, which means we should be looking to get about 40,000 signatures to be safe,” he added.