City Hall spent so much time last year trying to find away to pay for Portland's long overdue road repairs without the formal say so of city residents. It went poorly, so get ready for a vote.

Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick announced this morning he'll try to put a four year, 10-cent local gas tax on the May ballot, a move Novick says would pay for $58 million in paving projects, new sidewalks, bike and pedestrian friendly residential streets, and protected bike lanes.

"We need to act as soon as possible," Novick said in a statement, "and that means we should send a four-year 10 cent gas tax for street repair and traffic safety to the ballot in May 2016."

The announcement's not a big surprise—Novick's telegraphed his interest in a gas tax option ever since a statewide transportation package went down in flames in this year's legislative session. He's been reaching out to groups all over the city, and pushed for unscientific polling of neighborhood groups.

Novick's also quietly paid for his own polling—reportedly from campaign funds (he'll also be running for re-election on the May ballot). He released results this morning of a survey conducted by Lake Research Partners in late September. The poll suggests 55 percent of Portlanders likely Portland voters would support a gas tax, 37 percent oppose it, and 8 percent are undecided.

The wording of the poll wasn't available, but Novick's office did share this: "There were no significant differences between voters who heard a version including the words 'traffic safety investments including safer pedestrian crosswalks and sidewalks,' and those who only heard 'traffic safety investments.'"

The numbers, in one way, are heartening. Though support might not be as strong as an earlier poll suggested, it still appears voters are more enthused about paying at the pump than they were for the majority of proposals tossed out last year. That said, 55 percent support is relatively tepid for a measure that's likely to face opposition from the petroleum lobby.

"I usually look for 60 percent support or higher," local pollster John Horvick, told the Mercury in September.

Even with that caveat, a gas tax vote has attracted a level of support that might be unprecedented in this conversation (which is just the latest iteration of a conversation that's been going on for decades). The Portland Business Alliance helped stymie last year's street fee proposals, but appears to be on board this time around. The City Club of Portland recently voted to support a gas tax, after releasing a lengthy report on the matter. Mayor Charlie Hales, after weeks of conspicuous silence, announced he's in support late last month. That was weeks after his challenger in next year's election, State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, voiced tentative support.

Commissioners Nick Fish and Dan Saltzman, who protested last year's street fee proposals because they wanted a public vote, may well support this latest proposal. That would pave the way for city council to refer the matter to the may ballot.

Even if a gas tax passes, though, Portland will have an enormous shortfall in the money officials estimate the city needs to bring roads up to snuff—more than $1 billion over a decade, and growing worse every day. Here's an abbreviated sales pitch Novick's saying the $58 million could pay for (better version here).