When people attempt to solve a problem, they are either dealing with a puzzle or a mystery, two forms of deception. Puzzles have a single answer; once that answer is apparent, the puzzle is solve. Puzzles exist when there is not enough information. Mysteries, on the other hand, have an abundance of information. A mystery requires a skilled sleuth to collect the facts, sift through the plethora of data, make observations, question the relevant players, and arrive at a solution to the problem.
Malcolm Gladwell, writer and journalist, said, “If things go wrong with a puzzle, identifying the culprit is easy: it’s the person who withheld information. Mysteries, though, are a lot murkier: sometimes the information we’ve been given is inadequate, and sometimes we aren’t very smart about making sense of what we’ve been given, and sometimes the question itself cannot be answered. Puzzles come to satisfying conclusions. Mysteries often don’t. Enter Andy Taubman and his team of street detectives, aka the Corpus Christi Ad Hoc Residential Street Infrastructure Advisory Committee.
The Corpus Christi City Council empaneled the nine-member group to gather the facts and make recommendations to get the most out of every dollar spent on residential streets and to suggest the best way to go about fixing the problem. This team of dedicated citizens spent over seven months digging into every aspect of street construction in Corpus Christi, including poring over the limited historical data, examining the current methods for tackling the streets, talking with contractors and analyzing current contracting methods used by the City, working with City Staff to collect information, exploring potential financing solutions, seeking alternative methods of street construction, and actually driving the streets of the city to identify the real problems. Then, they generated a 41-page document of these findings, which will be presented to the City Council in June. They even included a really handy section devoted to defining the “street language” in the document. The report focuses on 7 areas:
- Identification of the current residential street problem;
- Observation of what is good and bad about the current residential street reconstruction process;
- Creation of the TAR (The Targeted Area Reclamation), a proactive, intensive maintenance cycle applied throughout the City to extend the functional life of streets until reconstruction can occur through the Residential Street Rebuild (Rework & Reconstruction);
- Prioritization of street rebuilding according to a process that considers road condition, safety, maintenance history, proximity to schools, population density, utility coordination, transportation coordination, and road network connectivity;
- Explanation of funding scenarios of $10 million, $14 million, $15 million, $17 million, and $20 million per year;
- Identification of possible funding sources for the proposed new residential street programs, including RTA Funding of City Street Aspects, Budget Savings and/or Reallocation of Existing Dollars, Dedicated General Fund and Industrial District Revenue, Re-purposed Whataburger Field Debt Service Funds, Charter Revision for Additional Dedicated Operations and Maintenance Property Tax Revenue, Dedicated Spending from Revenue Growth, and Ad Valorem Tax Increase.
There will, no doubt, be questions about the findings, as there most certainly should be. It’s part of the process. However, the best part about this whole story is that the nine “detectives” will have answers, answers founded in good information. The report they have generated leaves nothing to guesswork, so the council members will certainly be able to solve the mystery about what to do with our residential streets, something that has never been done and that many thought was not even possible. Hats off to this dedicated and hard-working group of skilled citizens! They have been good and faithful servants of the people.
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