Remember the "Pothole Trout"?
Within a couple of months of my coming to Truckee back in 1993, I recall that a clever citizen wrote a letter to the editor that extolled the virtues of the Truckee “Pothole Trout” so named because the size of the potholes on Jibboom Street and many other streets around Town were big enough to be listed as “protected waters of the United States”. It was a funny comment on a serious situation. And the newly elected Town Council in the newly created Town government felt that in addition to land use issues, the improvement and ongoing maintenance of Town roads was one of the highest priority issues that the new Town faced.
On March 23rd of next year the Town celebrates its 10th anniversary and the condition of Town roads is no longer one of the highest priorities that the Town Council faces. From my perspective, that is a sign of tremendous success! The issues of numerous potholes, automobile alignment problems, and jokes about government responsiveness on this topic are behind us. Over the last 10 years, the Town Council with the help of two separate citizens committees, a dedicated Town engineering staff and maintenance crew, and a 70%+ vote of Truckee voters to support Measure A have put the Town’s road infrastructure in good condition. Now potholes are rare rather than common and the Town is looking to improve road safety with things like guard rails, improved storm drainage, and bike lanes rather than the condition of the road surface itself.
It has not been easy, it has not been cheap, and there is still more to do (and keep doing). In the early years while the Town was struggling financially, decisions on where to put limited dollars on to a 140 mile road system that was “shot” were tough. There was always more to do than money to do it. And then the first road financing plan that the Town came up with was rejected by Town citizens! They said, “Don’t tax our property to fix your roads”. The Council and citizens’ committee went back to the drawing boards and after a lot of work (including getting special State legislation for Truckee) went on to the voters with a sales tax that taxed visitors as well as locals to fix our roads. That tax passed.
Over the last 10 years the Town has spent over $25 million upgrading and maintaining Town roads. We now have a Five Year Pavement Management Program that is updated regularly, and the Council has created an equity strategy for the Tahoe Donner and Glenshire subdivisions where residents there have higher special assessments to ensure that their local streets are continually maintained at higher levels. This year the Council also eliminated special assessments in four areas of Town that were previously created by the County. The Town now works hard to coordinate our road construction efforts with the Public Utility District, the Sanitary District and Southwest Gas to minimize the number and frequency of road cuts in newly paved surfaces. Those situations will still arise on occasion, but not nearly as often as before incorporation.
The occasional pothole still shows up – so call us when you see one and we’ll fix it. Truckee’s roadway future looks bright, thanks to a lot of hard work and support. There are no longer the jokes about Truckee’s “pothole trout”. Now the editorial cartoons complain about too much road construction! Oh well .. Some things never change.
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