Two-thirds of Salt Lake City’s streets are poor or failing, so taxpayers may be asked to pass a bond to fix them

Posted at 3:18 PM, Jun 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-29 20:10:30-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- If you drive through some of the city's neighborhoods, you can feel how bad the roads are.

You'll feel every pothole, every crack and every bump in the road.

A Salt Lake City Transportation Department study found that roughly two-thirds of the city's streets are graded as "poor" or "failing." Years of delayed maintenance are catching up.

Potholes along 1700 East in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

"You always gotta watch out. There’s either huge potholes or little ones. Vehicles are always swerving out of the way," said Hayden Clark, who drives along 1300 East regularly.

Salt Lake City Engineer Matt Cassel took FOX 13 on a drive through neighborhoods to demonstrate why he believes an $87 million road bond needs to be approved by voters in November. He said when the recession hit, the city cut back on road repairs.

Now, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski has said they need to catch up.

"The city has recognized a funding gap of what we should be spending on our roads and what we are currently spending on our roads," Cassel said.

The bond would fund entire street projects and hire more maintenance crews. He said it would get the roads to satisfactory condition.

"With one maintenance crew doing 75 miles a year and us having 1,850 miles of road, it’s not often. That’s why we’re including maintenance for them to be able to get to roads like this," Cassel said.

Money would also come from a sales tax hike recently approved by the Salt Lake City Council.

A map showing all the roads in Salt Lake City graded "poor" or "failing." (Image via Salt Lake City Dept. of Transportation)

So far, Cassel said, voters he's spoken to about the project have been understanding. The city has about $220 million in street reconstruction needs. The cost for the bond would be about $5 per household, city officials said.

"Roads are a core function of the city. I think the residents expect the city to maintain those. I think if they listen and hear what we have to say and why we’re doing this, I think they’ll understand and I think they’ll be comfortable with the decision made to do it and hopefully vote yes on it," Cassel said.

The Salt Lake City Council has ordered a series of public meetings before they are expected to vote on whether to put it on the November ballot. Those will take place:

  • Open House @ Partners in the Park
    Tuesday, July 17
    5 - 8 p.m.
    Riverside Park
    739 North 1400 West
  • Open House @ Sugar House Farmer’s Market
    Wednesday, July 18
    5 – 8 p.m.
    Fairmont Park
    1040 Sugarmont Drive