At first, Maria Lignos thought she had simply hit a pothole while driving at night to her home off Bear Canyon Road.
Her 2001 Mercedes sedan made a thunderous sound as the car's frame violently met the pavement, but the car seemed to drive normally on the way home.
It wouldn't take long for Lignos to realize that she had hit the mother of all potholes, leaving part of her 12-year-old car at the scene of the accident. A mechanic would eventually bill her for nearly $2,500 in repairs for a single incident that lasted a few seconds while she was driving at residential speeds.
The day after the accident, crews would mark the pothole with yellow paint. But it would still take days before the pothole would be filled by county construction crews.
Lignos should be grateful that the mother of all potholes was not in the city limits. Arizona Daily Star reporter Darren DaRonco wrote last week the city of Tucson takes an average of 42 days to fix.
However, she will likely be waiting a bit longer than that to get her money back - if at all.
For the moment, Lignos is in the earliest stages in her fight with the county. Last month, she sent a letter of claim - a precursor to a lawsuit - to the county.
County officials confirmed that Lignos' claim is being reviewed by the Risk Management Division, which has the authority to settle some claims made against the county.
Some claims get settled. Others go to trial.
Last week, the county conceded 63 percent of the streets it maintains are in either poor or failed condition.
Measurements deciding what condition a street is in include counting cracks, crumbling pavement and, of course, potholes.
For Lignos, she is waiting to hear from the county.
Her insurance paid for most of the work, save for her deductible, but Lignos is upset she essentially used her get-out-of-jail-free card with her insurance company.
Any new claim on her driving record, she worries, will raise her rates.
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DOWN THE ROAD
Union Pacific Railroad will close the at-grade crossing on Ajo Way between Park Avenue and Sixth Avenue tonight to install new track extensions.
Work is expected to begin tonight at 8 p.m., with the crossing reopening Tuesday at 8 a.m.
Drivers are asked to find alternative routes while the crossing is closed.
Q: Bruce Hilpert asks: "Of all of Tucson's terrible streets, Alvernon is probably the one I avoid the most. It has troughs about six inches wide every thirty feet or so. It wreaks havoc on my front end and my state of mind. I don't know whether these are expansion joints, but if so they seem to be much larger than necessary. Plus, I never see expansion joints in other asphalt pavement. It seems like I have a vague memory that these appeared after the street was repaved."
A: Ed Wilmes, administrator of the Tucson Department of Transportation Streets and Traffic Maintenance Division, drove Alvernon on Friday, taking a closer look at Hilpert's complaint.
Wilmes said he observed "transverse and longitudinal thermal cracking" with the worst of the cracking between Grant and Fort Lowell Roads.
The department will, starting the week of July 1, "undertake a maintenance project to make repairs to the extensive thermal cracking that exists on Alvernon, from Grant north to Fort Lowell. The goal of the work will be to prevent the infiltration of water beneath the pavement, and to improve the ride quality of the existing pavement," he said.
"Streets (department) will further work with TDOT Engineering Division staff to examine preservation strategies that will permit a cost-effective, permanent solution to this street, as well as many, many others ...," Wilmes wrote.
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