Special Report: Asphalt Jungle

It is something that just about every driver in Corpus Christi complains about at one time or another: pot holes.

Sometimes they are big enough to seriously damage your vehicle, but at the very least they're a nuisance.

So how did our streets get this way, and what is being done to address this nearly one billion dollar problem?

Our city streets are lined with potholes and uneven pavement. It's an ugly mess, and residents say they have had enough.

"We do have bad streets," said a local resident. "If you got false teeth, you need to hold onto them sometimes."

It seems everyone has the same opinion of our streets.

"Bottom line, we have the worst streets that I've seen anywhere," another resident said.

So how did thing's get so bad that we now have nearly a billion dollars worth of needed road work?

Well, recently a City committee took a look at the question and found that City Councils since 1985 had voted to cut funding to the street department by some 50-percent. Rex Kinnison was on four of those councils.

"Right after we got on the Council, the city manager came to us and was telling us about the financial condition of the city, and he made the comment, 'I think we're going to be able to make payroll,' and that kind of told us how severe it was," Kinnison said.

Kinnison said that, after hearing that, he and fellow council members decided to try and get spending under control and bring property taxes down.

"Police protection was a priority at the time, higher than streets. So there were a lot of public safety dollars probably were taken from some streets at that time," said John Longoria, who served in City Council from 1995-2002. "And I remember having that debate because we knew streets needed to be maintained."

Longoria said the priorities back in the mid-90s were to pay for projects like the Mary Rhodes Pipeline, Whataburger Field and the American Bank Center. Also, there was a big shift of budget dollars from the streets and parks departments to fund police and firefighters; money that stripped the street department down to bare bones.

The City has two three-man crews that patrol the city each and every day, looking for potholes to fill; and, of course, there is no shortage of holes to fill. What residents really want to see is their roads reworked and repaved, and that is something the City is going to have to figure out how to pay for.

"Something's got to be done," motorist Robert Williams said. "The streets are like buckboard paths, breaking down my car, so I guess if they can save the cars from being broken down, five bucks a month ain't bad."

William's was referring to the street user fee. The City is looking to tack on somewhere around $7 a month on everyone's utility bill. That would help to repair our worn out pavement. It is estimated that, after three years, it would pay to fix up 22 to 25-percent of our streets.

"We're going to seek some final direction before we come back at the end of February with a recommendation of approving a rate, and then it would be implemented conceivably as soon as May 1," Assistant City Manager Oscar Martinez said.

Most people seem to be ready for the work to start.

"I think it's actually an excellent idea, because the streets in Corpus Christi, I've lived here all my life, have gone to hell in a hand basket, and they really need some help repairing it," motorist Dennis Ward said. "And if something so little can go a long ways to fixing the infrastructure around the city, I'm all for it."

Residents may not be happy with another plan being looked at by City staff. It involves a more aggressive approach to the total reconstruction of residential streets, one which could see the City inspecting neighborhood streets and then forcing residents who live there to help pay the bill to fix their rundown and broken street.

If the proposed street user fee goes into effect in May, then work will begin by August. Until then, keep your eyes on the road as you try to navigate down the asphalt jungle.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment