Gas tax: The right way to pay for fixing roads? - Tucson News Now

Gas tax: The right way to pay for fixing roads?

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Pima County and Tucson have been taken off a list which three years ago said the area had the fifth worst roads in the nation for communities with more than 500,000 residents.

The report was prepared by TRIP, a national research group that rates roadways in urban areas.

The area was dropped off the list because of an aggressive pavement preservation plan which used millions of dollars in taxpayer money to repave priority roads.

The major arterials have been redone, but the neighborhood streets remain in utter disrepair.

The Pima County Administrator, Chuck Huckelberry, said “if they were included, it is likely we would once again be listed.”

The county has supported a ten cent increase in the state’s gas tax to pay for road repairs and maintenance.

A bill has been introduced at the Arizona state legislature, but faces a rocky road.

As an alternative, SB 1147, would allow each county to ask voters whether to increase their local gas taxes by ten cents which would be dedicated to roads.

The tax could last no longer than 20 years.

Under the proposal, the county would also be required to establish a Regional Transportation Authority to handle the tax dollars collected. They would not be spent by the county itself.

Huckelberry said “We should continue to explore all of these options” but has not weighed in on SB 1147 yet.

Residents of the Orangewood neighborhood, which recently petitioned the county to fix their roads but were denied, are still unsure whether they would support the tax despite the poor condition of their roads.

“I pay a lot for gas now,” said Colten Justice. “So probably not, probably not.”

“Unless there is some curtailment of where the politicians are held accountable,” said Ed Slechta, a retired DPS officer. “They’ve got to be held accountable.”

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