Councilwoman Rebecca Francik said her Pasco colleagues need to recognize that every single person in this state benefits from safe and well-maintained roads.
“If you buy milk at a grocery store, then somebody has to drive on a road to get it to you,” Francik said.
But if the road is neglected and falls into a state of disrepair, it is a very expensive project to dig that road up and start from scratch, Francik said.
“The lifeblood of the state is agriculture, and agriculture is dependent on getting products on the roads, so it’s important to maintain roads (and not) let them degrade,” she said.
Francik was one of five Pasco City Council members on Monday putting their support behind a state transportation package that would include $26 million for the Lewis Street overpass project.
Councilmen Bob Hoffmann and Tom Larson had the two dissenting votes. Hoffmann said he is categorically opposed to a carbon tax, a condition of the package.
A $15 billion transportation package has already been approved by the Republican-controlled Senate. It includes a 16-year plan investing in multiple transportation projects across the state.
Last week, the Democratic-led House released its own proposal with comparable funding for Lewis Street.
Both the bill and the proposal rely on an 11.7-cent gas tax to be phased in over three years.
The overpass project looks to replace the current crumbling underpass that was built in 1937 and separates downtown from east Pasco. It has been a major priority of the city council for the past decade, with Pasco putting $6 million into the project to this point so it is shovel ready.
However, the city needs either state or federal funding, or both, to see it through.
Councilman Saul Martinez said as much as he doesn’t like this tax, including paying more for fuel, he is in favor of it to help the region.
“I’d like to see more money come to this side of our state, and what it’s going to do to revitalize downtown and the revenue it could possibly bring in to the city,” he said.
In other business Monday, the council held a public hearing on zoning for county land west of Road 80 in advance of a proposed annexation.
Six residents addressed the council about the zoning review process and how it will affect their properties.
The area proposed to be annexed includes 688 acres of unincorporated county land in what is commonly referred to as the doughnut hole. It includes more than 400 homes, along with McLoughlin Middle School and Ruth Livingston Elementary School.
Keeping the current RS-20 zoning means a minimum lot size of 20,000 square feet per home, which many residents favor so apartments and duplexes don’t take over.
Theresa Oliver, part owner of the Animal Hospital of Pasco, said the business was established at 3012 Road 92 in 1982 and she plans on living to 100 on that property. However, she is worried her business is being pushed out with a rezone and already has received letters from multiple developers wanting to buy what they believe is abandoned property.
Rick White, community and economic development director, assured Oliver that she is in a very small portion of the Riverview county island that is zoned for veterinary uses, and it doesn’t go away.
Oliver was pleased with that response since the Animal Hospital employs 20 people with four veterinarians. “I see us being a part of the community for years to come,” she said.
Mark Mansell, who lives on Road 96, urged council members and city staff to work with the residents because they do have some concerns, especially when it comes to maintaining their rural lifestyle.
“Help us be welcomed into the city,” he said.
The second public hearing will be June 1.