The Investigators

Oct 1, 2013 6:26 PM by Tom McNamara and Paul Birmingham

Northwest residents want Pima County to pave their road

Do streets near your house make you feel like you're riding with Indiana Jones toward the Temple of Doom?

It's no secret that many roads in Pima County are cracked and cratered.

That's tough on you, and your vehicle. It can also be dangerous. But, why do some roads end up paved and smooth, while others don't?

Rattled residents on the northwest side contacted the News 4 Tucson Investigators about their rough road.

They say they've endured jarring trips up and down that road for years. And, they say their pleas to Pima County to fix it have gone unheard. So, they came to us for help.

Lobo Road, near Shannon and Overton roads, is a mess. The road is peppered with potholes, and littered with loose asphalt. The ride is like careening down a washboard.

About two-dozen neighbors there have gathered signatures on a petition, to get Pima County to pave the road.

"Frankly it's a bit of a safety concern for individuals walking. It's also a safety issue for the children on bikes, as an example," says resident Kevin Kirkeeng.

"It's just rough, and it's rough on your vehicles," adds Lois Sharon, another Lobo Road resident.

This is not the first time residents have asked the county to pave Lobo Road. They also did it in 1999, 2005, and again in 2010.

"Now, it's our question, of course, and our hope, when you have an issue that's been around for this many years, and we go to our elected officials, we might get a bit more concrete responses than we have. That's why we've come to you for your help," Kirkeeng says.

Neighbors say the problem is especially bad for motorcyclists.

And, the work the county has done, merely patching the road with recycled asphalt, hasn't helped.

"It's more harmful I think. It's not uniform. You see, it's just choppy there. There are potholes down here. And then washboard effect. It's, just a mess," Sharon says.

David Cummings, with the Pima County Department of Transportation tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, it's not that they don't want to pave Lobo Road - it's that they can't.

"It's always money," Cummings says.

Cummings says the county is limited in what they can do with the available funds, and 60-percent of the county's roads are in poor or failed conditions. Just paving Lobo Road would cost about $71,000.

"We only have a five-million dollar plan for this fiscal year approved. Frankly, we'll only catch up with only a five-million dollar plan," Cummings says.

So, Cummings says the county has to prioritize what they think they can do. That includes, focusing on roads that are still able to be saved, unlike Lobo Road.

"So, with those 40-percent of those roads, that are still in fair to good condition, we'll invest some money into that," Cummings says.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators wanted to know how things got to be so bad in the first place.

"For example, maybe six or seven years ago, 20-percent of our roads were failed or poor condition. That's a manageable number. But since then, we've been deferring any kind of maintenance, we've not done anything, literally, in the past four five years until last year. And once we got to that point, those roads had dropped to a condition that is so much worse, we're really behind the eight-ball, and we'll never catch up for that," Cummings says.

For their part, people living along Lobo Road are tired of hearing the excuses about money. They want results.

"Cough it up. You know, we'd like to have a smooth road. And it would be easier on our vehicles," Sharon says.

Residents along Lobo Road also wanted to know: with their property values and taxes going up, shouldn't the county have more money to pave the road? County officials tell the News 4 Tucson Investigators, road maintenance is paid for by the gasoline tax, and by highway user funds, also known as HURF money. So, an increase in property tax, doesn't mean an increase in the amount of paved roads.

If you have something you would like us to investigate, email the News 4 Tucson Investigators, at investigators@kvoa.com

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