Even though the streets in the Palo Verde Neighborhood - like the rest of the city - are crumbling, a city road crew spent Friday morning paving an alley in the midtown neighborhood.
A six-man crew was out early pouring asphalt on a portion of an alley between East Waverly and East Seneca streets.
The alley runs behind the home of the Palo Verde Neighborhood Association president, Ronni Kotwica, who is also a retired supervisor from the city's Parks and Recreation Department. She retired from the city about six years ago.
"Why are they paving my alley when the street in front of my house is a sinkhole?" asked Palo Verde resident Erin Baker, 26, while standing in her front yard overlooking dilapidated East Waverly.
"I thought maybe they were putting in some flood controls, but they're just leveling and paving it."
Kotwica said the city owed it to the neighbors to repair the alley.
"It's not wrong for them to fix this," she said. "They are righting a wrong. … We've sucked it up for a long time. And we pay taxes like everybody else."
Kotwica said she paid for the alley to be chip-sealed in 1975. Over the years, contractors hired by the city, neighbors and private companies have all contributed to the alley's deterioration as they dug up the alley at various times to install water, gas and cable lines without properly repairing it when they were finished. She also said garbage trucks and other large vehicles have contributed to the alley's demise as well.
Kotwica said she has beseeched city officials, from the mayor and City Council to the city manager and various department heads, since August 2012 to either fix the alley or do something about the neighborhood's serious flood issues.
A work order was placed for the project last Dec. 17.
Crews had been at the alley since the beginning of the week.
A Tucson Department of Transportation official said it's unusual for city workers to pave an alley. But the department's interim engineering administrator, Fred Felix, said this particular alley was previously paved and had some drainage issues.
"They don't typically pave alleys," Felix said. "People make requests for maintenance" and then those requests are placed on a list.
Felix didn't know how much the project cost, how many miles of alleys the city paves each year, or why an alley paving project only took three months for the city to address when when it is facing millions of dollars of unmet street repairs.
Assistant City Manager Albert Elias, however, said the work was "not that unusual," adding the city has a dedicated alley repair crew. Although normally, he said, they don't pave entire alleys, but rather fill holes and smooth out ruts.
Kotwica thinks one of the reasons for the quick response was that she promised transportation officials she would talk to the media about the city's inaction on flooding issues and the alley if the project wasn't addressed in a timely manner.
Now that it's being paved, Kotwica said, all the neighbors who use the alley will benefit by not having their tires destroyed every time they leave their garage.
Crews will continue work on the alley Monday.
Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @DarrenDaRonco.