The Fix the Streets Committee has raised $82,590 in campaign contributions to try to convince voters to support the Nov. 5 ballot measure that calls for extending the 1-percent local-option sales tax for 10 years to fix streets.
Much of the money is from companies in the street construction business.
In contrast, Carol Martin, longtime City Hall observer and critic, is heading up a committee opposed to the sales-tax extension. The committee, called Get the Facts CR, has raised $351 to get its message out.
At a Fix the Streets committee news conference on Friday at the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, Carolyn Bonifas Kelly, associate director of research and communications for national transportation research group TRIP, said 48 percent of Cedar Rapids’ streets are in poor condition and 25 percent in mediocre condition, which together means that three-fourths of the streets show “significant deterioration,” she said.
The numbers come from city data provided to the Federal Highway Administration, Bonifas Kelly said.
She said TRIP, which is located in Washington, D.C., recently rated streets in cities with populations of 250,000 or more, but she said the condition of Cedar Rapids’ streets would have placed it among the 10 worst in the nation if cities Cedar Rapids’ size had been included in the survey.
Bonifas Kelly’s said TRIP estimated that every motorist in Cedar Rapids pays $696 a year in extra vehicle maintenance and vehicle depreciation costs because of driving on the city’s bad streets.
Committee chairman Don Thomas, who served as city Streets Commissioner from 1994 through 2005, said the city had revenue to repair residential streets in his early years in office. At one point, he said he pushed for a local-option sales tax to help with the work, but he said he could not win support from his City Council colleagues at the time.
Chuck Finnegan, president of asphalt paving company L.L. Pelling of North Liberty, said his firm worked on 25 to 30 residential streets a year in Cedar Rapids in the early 1990s, but then most of that work “kind of disappeared,” he said.
The biggest contributors to the Fix the Streets Committee campaign are: L.L. Pelling, $10,000; Shive-Hattery Inc., $10,000; Croell Redi-Mix Inc., $10,000; Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, $10,000; Rathje Construction, $5,000; Wendling Quarries Inc., $5,000; E & F Paving Co., $3,000; Snyder & Associates, $3,000; Hawkeye Ready Mix Inc., $2,500; King’s Material Inc., $2,500; Stanley Consultants Inc., $2,500; and Protect Cedar Rapids Committee, $2,531.