Project Red, White & Blue
Prop 409 could mean millions for road repairs
Reporter: Justin Schecker
Web Producer: Rikki Mitchell
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The cracks, the bumps and the potholes in tonight's Project Red, White & Blue.
You and your cars feel them daily as you drive across Tucson. The city blames budget cuts in recent years for the deteriorating roads. Now its up to you, the voters, to decide whether to fund $100 million in bonds to repair Tucson's crumbling streets.
Joan Kleinerman told 9 On Your Side she is willing to pay more, if that means fewer potholes and cracks on Tucson's roads.
"I would like to see roads fixed," Kleinerman said, "And be able to drive without feeling I'm going on broken nails."
If a majority of Tucsonans vote "yes" to Proposition 409, Assistant City Manager Kelly Gottschalk says the city plans to allocate $100 million in bonds over the next five years to get the roads back to speed.
"It wont do curbs and gutters, it won't do sidewalks," Gottschalk said, "It won't do any other transportation improvements. It will just basically resurface the streets and maintain the streets that we have."
Eighty-five percent of the money will fund repairs to major roads and the other 15 percent will go toward neighborhood streets.
City Council Member Steve Kozachik said he is rooting for Prop 409 to pass, but added this is a referendum on more than improving roads.
"This is really a vote on the level of trust the city of Tucson voters have in us as a governing body," he said.
"In the past years, how money has been mishandled, I think it's something we need to keep a close eye on," said Jennifer Neely, who opposes Prop 409.
According to Gottschalk, only some of the opposition comes from a lack of trust.
"Unemployment is still high, so there are some people we are hearing from that don't want taxes to increase regardless," she said.
With the Rio Nuevo Board and Department of Transportation scandals fresh in voters minds, Kozachik said he did not even want the proposition on this year's ballot.
"Let's hit the pause button," he said. "Let's give this thing 12 months, bring it back a year from now and give the voters a chance to rebuild their trust in us."
"We didn't want another year of deterioration," Gottschalk said. "The money cannot be diverted for any other reason. It would have to go back to a vote of the people."
Kleinerman told 9 On Your Side she already voted for Prop 409 on her absentee ballot.
"I wish if this goes through and the money is collected it's used the way they propose to use it," she said.
Gottschalk said the city will hire private contractors to do the repairs. If this proposition doesn't pass, she said the mayor and city council will look to reallocate other funds to make some road repairs.