City gets busy paving roads under 'back to basics' plan

PORTLAND, Ore. - Now that Portland city commissioners have their bureau assignments, it's time to get to work.

Mayor Charlie Hales teamed up with Transportation Bureau Commissioner Steve Novick on Thursday to explain the city's new paving plan. The city is catching up on four years of neglect. The goal is to fix over 100 miles of Portland's streets starting this summer.

Novick is ready for the job and has some new rules for Portland's roads.

"One of the basic rules of life is when you're in a hole, stop digging," Novick said. "So that's what we're doing today - we're stopping the digging. We're starting to take care of that basic maintenance now so we don't have bigger and bigger problems down the road."

For fiscal year 2013/2014, the city will spend $11.3 million on their 'back to basics' street maintenance plan. Long-term funding has yet to be worked out, but the mayor said they are working on some creative solutions.

"The gas tax is still there, vehicle registration fees, a street utility fee that everybody pays on their utility bill," Hales said. "Even more cutting edge ideas like a carbon tax. There are all kinds of ways to pay for this infrastructure and we're going to look at them all. And do this in an open way with the voters of the city."

So in the long run, it sounds like we might be paying a little bit more, but the mayor had a reminder about that.

"The people need to understand that you have to pay for what you own," Hales said. "And we all own this 5,000-lane mile asset that's worth $5 billion. It's worth it to spend a little bit and to even tax ourselves a little more in order to pay for it."

The Transportation Bureau has added a comprehensive list of projects to its website where you can find maps, dates, times and locations of repair work.