Rough Roads

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Potholes are popping up all over Topeka as winter makes way for spring. They can cause damage to vehicles and frustration to motorists. A recent study by an engineering firm revealed about 75% of Topeka's 680 miles of streets analyzed had a received an "unacceptable" rating.

"I think they are average. Some sides of town are better than other," said Topeka resident, Pam Boid.

Even the city admits they are in rough shape. "The roads in Topeka are in pretty bad shape," said city spokesperson, David Bevens.

Part of the reason comes from a lack of funding. Bevens said Topeka receives about $6.3 million annually from federal motor fuels tax revenue. That money alone funds all Street Section functions. Any street sweeping, snow removal, or pothole must be taken care of out of those funds.

Bevens said estimates to repair all of the roads in the city would cost about $60 million. A 0.5% sales tax increase has been proposed to take care of the situation and supplement the needed funding.

"No one wants taxes to increase but with a sales tax people who shop in Topeka would be contributing to repairing the streets they drive on. About 40%+ of the sales tax collected in the city comes from persons who don’t live in the city or pay property taxes. If property taxes are used to fix the streets they would be paid 100% by Topekans and Topeka businesses," said Bevens. The proposal will be on the April ballot.

The question will be phrased on the ballot like this:
“Shall the City of Topeka levy an additional retailers’ sales tax in the amount of five-tenths of one percent (0.5%) to be used exclusively for costs of maintenance and improvements of existing City streets, gutters, curbs, sidewalks, alleys and street lighting, provided such tax shall take effect October 1, 2009, and expire ten (10) years from the date of imposition?”

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