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Tucson repairing streets with sales tax

Planning to ask voters to extend tax for streets
Posted at 7:45 PM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 21:51:11-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Tucson voters approved Prop 101 to raise money for Public Safety, Parks and Streets. But there was a roughly two year delay before those dollars turned into pavement.

Tucsonans were so tired of rough roads they agreed to tax themselves to make the roads better. So now the question is, ‘Where’s the payoff?

Tucsonans passed Prop 101 by a wide margin. The share of taxes for streets was projected at 100 million dollars. But the city waited almost two years to start actually spending Prop 101 money on streets.

The city says rather than borrow and pay back from tax income, it waited to collect enough to cover the costs directly.

The city’s “Tucson Delivers” website says with about 40 percent of the projects done, the city’s improved about 155 lane-miles on big arterial roads and about 142 lane-miles in residential streets.

Lane-miles is transportation speak to measure roads that may have multiple lanes. A mile’s worth of four lane road would be four lane-miles.

So how was the work decided?

Erica Frazelle is with Tucson’s Department of Transportation and Mobility. She says, “So we had a worst-first qualification. On our neighborhood roadways. So there were three components: worst-first, ward equality, and bicycle boulevards.”

The City pointed us to this area of fresh pavement in the Garden District between Speedway and Grant. Neighborhood Association President Lois Pawlik says that paving also coincided with a lot of work to replace gas lines.

She finds it hard to use the city website to track projects and says there’s still plenty of work to smooth out her neighborhood streets.

“We don't have a lot of sidewalks. So if we don't have maintained streets, we don't have anywhere to walk. It's difficult to walk along at nighttime, even because you're tripping on cracks and things riding a bicycle is nearly impossible. And it's very, very difficult, because you just keep running up against all the potholes, cracks in the road.”

The city says the Prop 101 work should be done next year—and a boost in tax revenue actually brought in more money than the city expected. Now the city is looking ahead to a new proposition asking voters to extend the sales tax to help fix more streets.