OUR VIEW: Listen to residents, fix Meridian's streets

Dave Bohrer / The Meridian Star

18th Avenue leading up to Rush and Anderson hospitals is among the Meridian city streets residents cited as in need of repair.

Apparently the roads in Meridian are paved with good intentions.

A report in The Meridian Star this week by Erin Kelly about the city’s plans to pave a portion of North Hills Street and possibly other locations struck a nerve with citizens – or maybe the busted shock absorbers are to blame for the bad vibrations.

The report generated as much digital traffic on our website as vehicle traffic on North Hills Street on a work day. More than 60 readers took extra time to leave comments, making suggestions about paving projects they’d like to see the city address next. More on that follows.

An accompanying readers poll, while highly unscientific, showed 49 percent of people responding would spend extra city money on paving than any other suggested issue, including law enforcement 22 percent, education 11 percent, parks and recreation 6 percent and everything else 12 percent.

City Public Works Director Hugh Smith seems equally frustrated that his crews haven’t been able to pave more streets this summer. The money just isn’t there as the city fights a shortfall of revenue.

To pave less than a half mile section of North Hills Street, the city will use 650 tons of asphalt at a cost of $51,000, Smith told The Star. He estimated it would cost $1.4 million to pave all of North Hills Street, and that’s just one street.

The city’s fiscal problems have been documented throughout this summer as the City Council and administration discuss cuts in spending and potential tax increases to plug a $1.2 million revenue shortfall in the proposed 2020 budget.

While we question whether all city spending has been done wisely – consider a purchase in 2017 of $7.5 million in paving equipment that evidently is rarely used – we do repeat a clear message from citizens to prioritize street maintenance.

Whether done by city crews or contracted out, street paving and repair has to be done correctly on a regular basis or it will cost taxpayers only more over time.

Now, as for those readers who provided their suggestions for streets to pave next, many named personal preferences, but most mentioned were the remainder of North Hills Street, Oakdale Avenue and 8th Street.

Here’s a sampling of what some had to say, more can be found on our Facebook page:

Danny Yarbrough: All of north hills street from hwy 19 to hwy 39! It’s terrible from one end to the other n carries a tremendous amount of traffic!!!

Nicole Johnson: 5th St., 8th St., 65th Ave. I could go on and on but those are just a few that need immediate attention.

Teresa Fikes Bye: Downtown. Especially in front of the post office.

Justin Allen: Let’s pave the hospital routes.

Sherry Reynolds: 18th Ave. it is so bad it is dangerous all the way to the hospital. Lots of traffic around hospital.

Lee Harris: Just pick one it is so many needs.

Derek Mowdy: Grab a map of meridian close your eyes and point.

Lee Cottrill: “Pothole patching and sidewalk work” is not enough anymore. City streets are crumbling and need MAJOR attention in multiple areas. Please stop putting a bandaid on the problem.

Kevin Rose: 8th Street, all the way through downtown.

David Ware: It would actually be easier to list the streets that don’t need paving.

You see, city leaders, you likely will find support if you make fixing streets a priority. Many might even consider supporting a tax increase if they were assured the work would be done.

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