(WICHITA, Kan.) — Substandard, that's how the City of Wichita rates its own streets. The city spends millions less than the average amount spent on street maintenance for cities similar in size. City Manager Bob Layton knows there's a need for improvement and he says he now has a plan for it. It's part of the preliminary 2012 budget which he'll present to the public Wednesday.
Orange cones are common on major Wichita roads, but you could eventually find more of them in your neighborhood. "Some areas are really in bad shape, those should have a priority," said driver Don Boleski. He and other drivers say it can be a bumpy ride on many side streets. "They're real tore up, not taken care of," said driver Laura Bird.
To improve driving conditions on side streets, Layton wants to include street maintenance in capital improvement projects. Right now the city funds roads with the general fund and Layton says they can no longer afford to do that. He believes the CIP process is a better way to go. "We're going to emphasize the existing infrastructure over expansion to growth areas. In the short term that should help us," he said.
Layton says by 2014, the city should be spending $10 million a year of roads. Right now it spends $6.6 million. "We can at least hold our own on condition of streets if we can get $10 million," he said. Driver's say it's one of the best places their tax dollars can go.
The preliminary budget will be presented to the public Wednesday night. The city manager may make changes based on how the public reacts. The city council must also vote on whether they like this idea. However street maintenance is a top priority for the council along with public safety and economic development.