Washed out road closed at least a week
Mother Nature took a bite out of Silverbell near Sunset Rd. after rushing water carved it away. Construction crews will work for at least a week to undo the damage. Video by kgun9.comvideo
Swift water rescue after Silverbell Road rips open! It was right out of a Hollywood movie. That's how rescue crews describe the scene of a swift water rescue after raging floodwaters from Sunday's Monsoon caused a portion of Silverbell Road to rip open. Image by Northwest Fire Department
Reporter: Jessica Chapin
TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - People on the Northwest side still can't believe what they saw, when the road washed away. Mother Nature took a bite out of Silverbell near Sunset Rd. after rushing water carved it away. Construction crews will work for at least a week to undo the damage.
A car was on the road when it caved, leading to a close call witnessed by Pima County resident Eric Graham.
"It was unbelievable. Silverbell turned into four or five flash flood areas," he said, "The water was coming up to pretty much her waist level in the car. It was intense."
Firefighters got everyone out safely, but the road is still a concern for some. Silverbell washed out in 1993. Pima County Department of Transportation representative David Cummings says they keep an eye on 20 roads across the county in danger of that kind of damage. He says they couldn't get to Silverbell in time to block it off.
"During a storm you always have to be careful about that," he said, "When you have an event like last night there's really not much you can do. It is an old designed road it's not a new road. It never was intended to be a bridge or structure, it's just a road that's at risk to this kind of erosion."
When the road washed out before, the county put in a temporary fix. Cummings says they're doing the same thing again, but that's not good enough for Mark Rodgers, who lives next to the barricaded road.
"I get kind of tired of hearing the word temporary fix," he said, "To me it's time, this road was supposed to be done years ago. Let's stop with the temporary fixes and let's get the job done."
9 On Your Side brought his concerns to Cummings.
"The idea is to rebuild it enough to hold traffic up until you can come back in there with a full repair and upgrade the road at the same time," he said.
According to county officials, that time will be in 2021. It's part of a 20-year road project in its 5th year. It will begin with Silverbell starting at Grant Rd in 2016, and continue into Pima County and Marana jurisdictions.
Tucson city spokesperson Mike Graham says the long-term project costs a lot of money, and it's funded with sales tax dollars, so they plan different sections well in advance. He says Silverbell is also in a unique situation because there have been several archaeological sites near the road, requiring extra steps for clearance to start construction.
In the meantime, transportation officials are asking for patience. They say Silverbell should be clear for traffic by next week.