Memphis Public Works: Not Enough Money to Maintain Roads

Memphis Public Works: Not Enough Money to Maintain Roads

Big budget cuts have resulted in big ruts and potholes on Memphis city roads. Right now, with the budget they've got, the city will be able to repave a road every 65 years. ABC 24 Watchdog Mike Matthews tracked down the man in charge of roads to get answers.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The issue about roads is money. There are 3,400 miles of roads in Memphis, and the city spends six and a half million dollars a year to fix them up.

It might be hard to believe when you hear the bolts fall off your vehicle while driving down many of this city's streets. They actually do maintenance - a piece of asphalt here, a patch there.

With more people holding on to their vehicles longer, it doesn't take much to shake up things that end up costing a lot of money.

Memphis City Council Member Harold Collins says it shouldn't happen. "If we can't provide that kind of service to them, then we're not doing what we're supposed to do."

Collins says he talks to people all the time. Memphis residents pay the highest property taxes in the state, but folks aren't demanding much, he says.

"An opportunity to drive their cars on smooth roads, have their trash picked up and be safe and secure in their community. That's all they really ask for."

The man in charge of the Division of Public Works, Dwan Gilliom, says six and a half million bucks a year only goes so far.

"I'm not getting the money I need in order to maintain the infrastructure that's there," he says. "When you don't maintain, you're going to pay for it one way or the other because the claims and the lawsuits are going to come in."

Gilliom thinks the roads are in horrible shape. One reason is because four years ago the city spent twelve and a half million dollars on road paving and maintenance, but not anymore. It's resulting in the crumbling roads and crater sized potholes. Right now, with the budget they've got, the city will be able to repave a road every 65 years.

"You just can't give me 20-million dollars one time. You need to give me 20-million every year in order to meet the standard as it relates to the paving cycle, which is 25 years."

Gilliom says maybe in a couple of years they'll have another way to pay for the roads. They're looking at a study right now to see what they can come up with. In the meantime, unless the money comes through city council, potholes will pop up like daisies in the spring.

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