OKLAHOMA CITY - In order to pave roads and patch potholes, each of Oklahoma City's eight wards will receive an extra $1 million in funding.
The city council approved the money at its meeting on Tuesday. The funds, totaling $8 million, come from a surplus in the general fund.
"It's very helpful," said Shannon Cox, public information officer for the city's Public Works Department. "It's a top concern for all the local residents and it's a top priority for what we work on."
Oklahoma City currently budgets about $70 million a year for repairs, but 7th Ward Councilman John Pettis says his area of the city needs all the help it can get.
"This is terrible," he said, standing on the intersection of S.W. 29th St. and High St. "As a city, we need to do something not just about this intersection, but every intersection like it."
The extra money won't be able to take care of every intersection -- not even close.
It costs about $200,000 to repair one mile of one lane of road. So the $8 million will only take care of about 40 lane miles. That's roughly 0.5 percent of the city's 8,000+ lane miles of streets.
"This is not just a meaningless drop in the bucket," said Pettis. "We'll be able to fix streets that we have not been able to fix before."
Pettis says he's used to doing more with less. Last time his ward got extra money, 7-10 lane miles were repaired.
Ward 7 is the third largest in the city, at 136 square miles, but Pettis still believes all the wards should receive equal amounts of money -- even the smaller districts. Whatever money is left over, he says, should go to the neediest wards.
Oklahoma City officials say the roads continue to be their top priority, because their citizens have told them it is their top concern.
The Public Works Department says it has 12 crews out daily patching potholes. Complaints still come in daily.
After a rainy couple months, the city says it's back to its normal cycle of filling potholes three days after they're reported.
But spokeswoman Shannon Cox says she knows the workload will be heavy again before long, as winter approaches.
"Typically any time we have that sort of weather: rain, snow, ice, that is exactly what happens to our roadways," she said. "Anytime you get extra water, that can degrade the condition of the pavement and that will actually pop the pavement."