LUBBOCK, Texas — Lubbock fire and police associations are supporting the city’s $200 million street improvement bond, worrying that narrow and unpaved roads slow their response times to emergencies.

“Can you put a price on protecting your citizens? I don’t think you can,” President of the Lubbock Professional Firefighters Association Joseph Wallace said. We see the need for the infrastructure so we can provide the service our citizens deserve.”

Wallace pointed to 98th Street and Upland Avenue as streets that are in special need of repairs. At that intersection, 98th Street turns into a rough dirt road servicing a large subdivision, and Upland is a narrow two-lane street leading to an elementary school of more than 700 students. He said the area has grown to need more major streets, and the congestion can make it harder to respond to emergencies.

“As we need to respond, you’ve got cars that are coming in and out of this school on a two lane road. All it does is bottleneck us. It causes us to potentially have to get people to move off to the side of the road or we have to go into oncoming traffic, and we like to try not to do that as much as possible,” he said.

Both streets are included in the 22 miles of roadway targeted for improvements in this year’s bond. If voters approve it, the city will allocate $200 million to widen, pave, and expand specific streets designated by a committee of citizens.

The Lubbock Professional Police Association joined firefighters and business leaders at a press conference to advocate for the bond last week.

“Our infrastructure is the backbone of Lubbock. It is imperative that we keep up with the growth of our thriving city. Improved, safe roads are vital to the citizens and first responders,” LPPA wrote on Facebook.

Wallace reported Lubbock firefighters have an average response time of 3 minutes and 36 seconds. That’s 24 seconds below the national average, but he argues that more pavement will only speed their response even more. He also warns, though, that Lubbock Fire Rescue will need to adapt to the city’s growth even after this bond.

“We have to gear up and build more stations, probably way quicker than they were building 10 years ago,” he said. “We’re going to be having rapid growth along with the city. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It has to happen.”