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KGUN 9 Tucson News

'Worst First” is Tucson’s plan for street repair

By Craig Smith,


If you’ve been bouncing down the moonscape of Tucson’s streets, relief is on the way—because Tucsonans voted for it.

Tucson has a lot of streets where you don’t just see the street: You feel it. Drivers are so eager to get those streets repaired they voted to tax themselves to pay for it. Now the city’s getting ready to roll that out.

Neighborhood President Lois Pawlak’s lived in the Garden District for about 30 years and pounded through potholes most of that time.

“You can just ruin your front end alignment. Plus, you could blow out a tire and cause some other damage. And that's not even the people who trip on them, that's just about cars.”

Last spring Tucson voters agreed to extend a half-cent sales tax for street repair and safety improvements.

Now the tax has collected about $60 million—enough money that the city’s close to laying down some fresh pavement,

Jim DeGrood is with Tucson’s Department of Transportation and Mobility. KGUN 9 reporter Craig Smith asked him: ”Which squeaky wheels are getting the grease first?”

He said, “You know, we've taken the position that we want to look towards doing the worst first, but there isn't much difference between a lot of our streets in terms of the worst.”

The “worst first” approach is a change from a policy that can really frustrate people. They watched the city do preventive maintenance on pretty good streets as a cost-effective way to keep them in pretty good condition, while waiting to fix streets that were so bad they needed to be ripped out and replaced.

Jim DeGrood says some of that preventive maintenance will still happen but the truly bad streets are getting priority treatment.

So when does your street get that buttery-smooth new pavement?

Maybe this summer. The city does not have a precise schedule just yet but this map shows which streets are getting what treatment. The rosy pink areas are set for the thorough reconstruction that’s top priority with the worst-first approach.


You can see more details at this link for the Tucson Delivers program.

Lois Pawlak got a tantalizing sample of smooth streets when Southwest Gas had to tear up some streets for gas main work. New pavement went in when the work was complete.

“They are so nice. You can ride a bike again. You can walk again. You can, it's quiet, you know—much much quieter.”

And the city says every street will get some work over the ten-year life of the program.

Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9 . With more than 30 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter .

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