County plans for road repair money coming into focus

County plans for road repair money coming into focus

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A Pima County Commission appointed to determine where to spend tax money for road repairs will present its recommendations to county elected officials Dec.12, 2017.

The 13 member Transportation Advisory Committee is holding a series of public hearings and meetings to best determine where the money should be spent and to insure transparency in county decisions.

One issue is the limited amount of money the county can raise to tackle what appears to be an insurmountable task.

According to some estimates, it will take $800 million to $1 billion to repair the 1,866 miles of road in Pima County, including both incorporated communities and unincorporated areas.

Pima County alone may take $280 to $320 million.

The property tax passed by the county board in June will raise $19 to $20 million annually.

"It would take approximately 30 years to repair all our roads with that amount of money," said Ana Olivares, Interim Director for the County Transportation Department.

The question is how best to use the funds that are available.

According to Olivares, county staff is recommending the county pave the most miles of roads with the money rather than fix the worst roads.

"Our recommendation is to do the ones that are in poor to fair condition," she said. "We can put a coat seal on them and extend their life."

64 percent, or 1,202 miles of paved roads, in Pima County are rated as poor to failed.

The cost is $250,000 a mile to fix a failed road. Poor to fair roads can take $53,000 to fix. With limited funds, the county is looking to get the biggest bang for the buck.

"You do the worst first, you do a lot less miles because it's a lot more expensive to repair," Olivares said.

Whether that is the recommendation followed by the Transportation has yet to be determined.

Also on the table, is a potential 1/2 cent sales tax which has been gathering support. It would raise about $800 million over 10 years and would be county wide including incorporated jurisdictions like Marana and Oro Valley.

District 4 Supervisor Steve Christy made the proposal to the committee last week where it was well received.

One major hurdle however, is board approval must be unanimous.

The plan, called "Just Pave Our Roads" also calls for a repeal of the recently passed property tax increase.

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