The Investigators

Jul 14, 2014 1:05 AM by Tom McNamara and Paul Birmingham

N4T Investigators: Corona de Tucson residents rage over flooded roads

When roads suddenly become raging rivers during monsoon storms, it's scary and potentially life-threatening for drivers.

In Corona de Tucson, raging waters from recent rains have enraged residents, who say nothing is being done to fix their roads, and eliminate that danger.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators heard complaints from Corona de Tucson residents during a big storm that hit last week. Flooded roads caused treacherous travel, and residents say it doesn't have to be this way. They say the danger's there, because the county doesn't care.

For residents like Dan Wise, long lines snaking down a soaked Sahuarita Road are nothing new.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department closes the road four or five times each year, when flooding makes it impassable.

"I'm very frustrated. I'd like to know what my tax dollars are being spent on, because it sure ain't this road. Not on the part of it we need," Wise said.

Wise isn't alone. During last week's downpour, the News 4 Tucson Investigators discovered Corona de Tucson residents sat steaming and soaking for hours, waiting to move just a few miles to get home. The residents say, over the years the situation has only gotten worse.

"The water is getting funneled right through our area, and we spend quite a number of storms sitting on the side of the road, like this," said Denise Hord.

So, what happens when residents take their concerns about the flooding to Pima County officials.

"They basically tell me I'm crazy, and that doesn't happen," Hord said.

"They won't listen to us," added Wise.

The problem isn't just along Sahuarita Road. Houghton Road, just south of I-10 also turns into a virtual river during downpours.

Once again, residents tell the News 4 Tucson Investigators, the county hasn't done anything to help solve the problem.

"Not at all. Not where I live anyways," Hord said.

"There's a lot more people living out here now. And they don't do anything to provide for the increased traffic flow," added Wise.

We heard from other residents who say they get stuck here out on Sahuarita Road every time it floods. They say they've gotten absolutely no satisfaction from Pima County. So, the News 4 Tucson Investigators took this matter to the top.

We asked Pima County's Director of Transportation, Priscilla Cornelio about the situation in Corona de Tucson.

"We do have a problem there," Cornelio said. "I mean, this needs to be improved at some point in time once we have the funding availability."

Although, Cornelio said as with most major roadway projects, it all comes down to a lack of taxpayer dollars.

"Right now we don't have the money to make the major construction projects that we need to do," Cornelio said.

Cornelio pointed to the recent completion of the bridge over the CDO wash on La Cholla, as one example of a project that helped put the brakes on road-closures during monsoon storms.

There are plans to widen Houghton Road, but that might not happen for decades.

"We hope to get money some point in time to start to address Sahuarita, but nothing right now," Cornelio said.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators discovered, by Pima County's own admission, the area of Sahuarita road in question is considered to be in *poor* condition.

We wanted to know exactly how much would it cost to improve Sahuarita Road, so those residents wouldn't have to deal with the headaches during monsoon storms.

"The CDO up at La Cholla, was like a $20 million project, so I've got to say the same is down there," Cornelio said. "And, the length of Sahuarita and the sections of Houghton both of them are very lengthy, and it would be much more. So, millions of dollars."

When it comes to that flooding, residents may be facing years of endless summers ahead. Though, Houghton Road is a part of a long-term RTA plan.

If you have something you'd like the News 4 Tucson Investigators to check out, email us at investigators@kvoa.com, or call the News 4 Tucson Investigators tip-line at (520) 955-4444.

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