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After road bond failure, the Lubbock City Council goes back to the drawing board

Broadway - Brick Road
Kaysie Ellingson/Texas Tech Public Media
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If approved, nearly $42 million of the $175 million would go toward improvements on Broadway.

A $175 million road bond package failed to pass in the November election. Now, the Lubbock City Council is working to figure out why and if there is a way to repackage the infrastructure needs for a future ballot.

On Tuesday, District 5 Councilman Randy Christian hosted a listening and review session at Citizens Tower to get feedback from citizens on the election and how they think some of the proposed projects should move forward.

The bond package that failed would have funded repairs or rebuilds for 13 roads throughout the city. Nearly $42 million of the package, almost a quarter of the total, was slated for work on Broadway.

If approved, the bond would have come with a maximum two-cent property tax increase. For the average homeowner, that would have translated to about 70 cents a month for five years.

In recent council meetings, leaders have expressed an interest in finding a way to rework the bond package and put it again to a public vote during a future election. Mayor Dan Pope has said even though the bond did not pass, the need to fix these roads is still there. One option they have discussed includes splitting projects up, rather than having just one big bond on the ballot.

That seemed more palatable to the crowd at Tuesday’s meeting. The consensus was that the Broadway portion of the package needs to be separate from the other proposed projects. No one in attendance objected to the work needed on a dozen other streets in town.

But there is skepticism over the proposal for the nearly 100-year-old brick street. A few citizens spoke to the historical significance of the brick streets. Others said improving the road should be a priority as the city and private developers work to revitalize downtown.

Metro Towers is going to add almost 200 people inside a quarter of a block…There’s going to be 2,000 students from South Plains College going into the former city hall on a daily basis,” said Dan Williams, a local realtor who has been involved with several downtown projects. “You talk about the use of that street, and it’s probably going to be used and utilized more than a lot of these streets are that are in the suburban areas of town.”

Others think the city should look at other options to pay for the work needed on Broadway, rather than paying for it with a bond. Paul Beane, a former city councilman who was vocally against the bond, suggested the council go back to the drawing board.

“Until we shuck Broadway off of this ballot, it’s not going to pass,” Beane said.

In a pre-election interview with Texas Tech Public Media, District 3 Councilman Jeff Griffith said the bond was ultimately about public safety and he didn’t see how anyone could disagree with that.

Still, 54% of voters were against the ballot measure. A precinct breakdown from the Lubbock County Elections Office shows citizens in South and West Lubbock voted against the measure at a higher rate than voters in more central and eastern precincts.

A countywide bond measure on the November ballot, for a similar property tax increase, which supported pay increases at the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office, passed with with 57% of votes. Less than 12% of registered voters in the county participated in the election.

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Have a news tip? Email Sarah Self-Walbrick at saselfwa@ttu.edu. Follow her reporting on Twitter @SarahFromTTUPM.

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