City commission OK's 110 miles of neighborhood street repairs

2014-01-22T00:00:00Z 2014-02-01T13:15:08Z City commission OK's 110 miles of neighborhood street repairsBy Joe Ferguson Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A small, relatively unknown city commission has signed off on $6 million in repairs over the next two years for neighborhood roads that would otherwise be unlikely to get fixed.

The directive approved by the city’s Bond Oversight Commission gives the green light for the city to spend $3 million a year on Tucson-area neighborhood streets and roads as part of the voter-approved Proposition 409.

Residential and industrial streets often get the short end of the stick when it comes to repair priorities, as planners give preference to main streets that have larger traffic volumes and faster speed limits.

The $100 million bond program sets aside $15 million — $3 million a year — to fix residential streets.

City transportation officials, who pitched five scenarios on how to spend the millions of dollars, said the first two years of road repairs will fix roughly 110 lane miles of roads in Tucson neighborhoods.

The bad news, however, is the city needs hundreds of millions of dollars to bring all city streets up to a relatively good standard.

Steve Pageau, chairman of the Bond Oversight Commission, said the streets in his neighborhood are cracked and generally in poor shape.

They are not in the commission’s two-year plan. Nor did they appear in preliminary five-year proposals from the city’s staff.

Pageau said that despite some lobbying by friends and neighbors for their streets, politics largely stayed out of the process to decide which streets should be repaired.

“There was surprisingly little lobbying,” Pageau said.

Bike advocates did win some concessions from the commission, which agreed to spend as much as $300,000 in the next two years on critical bike routes.

East Third Street, a popular bike route, will likely see most of those repairs.

Pageau said the commission, which met for five months before weighing in on various staff proposals, was able to lobby the staff to include more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly repairs.

The final proposal, he said, probably wouldn’t have been approved by the staff six months ago.

The $6 million in road repairs will tackle streets in various conditions — from relatively good to relatively poor — although he conceded that some neighborhood streets were in such bad condition that they would cost too much to fix.

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