Nothing green can stay.

With apologies to Robert Frost, city officials have begun labeling city streets by color in an attempt to best explain to the Prop 409 advisory group how best to spend the $3 million they have to spend annually on residential streets. The bond money was approved by city voters last year.

So far, there is no list of specific streets under consideration — city workers are expected to spend the next four months explaining the basics of road maintenance to the assembled group.

This is either glacially slow or impossibly fast depending on your viewpoint, but as it is the last word before the money is spent, city workers are trying to be deliberate in getting one message across: Perfection, when found in either nature or on a city street, is the hardest to hold on to.

While a perfect street is something to admire, it is something impossible to hold on to long-term, city officials explain.

For one thing, it is often in the eye of beholder.

Daryl Cole, director of the Department of Transportation, says he got calls for months from a persistent resident who demanded his otherwise perfect street needed to be repaved.

The resident’s logic? His street had faded in color, and he wanted the city to make it black again.

Here are the current conditions of residential streets, based on federal accepted standard:

• Roughly 5 percent of the city roads fall under the category of excellent, which are labeled green.

• Seven percent are labeled good, earning a dark blue hue on city documents.

• Nine percent fall under the term fair, colored yellow on a city-wide map.

• A whopping 64 percent are considered poor, given the misleading color of gold.

• The remaining 14 percent have essentially earned a failing grade and are labeled red on city documents.

City officials are advising to be cautious with the limited funding, since they don’t have enough money to change one color to another, considering there are more than 3,500 miles of residential streets.

Fixing the city’s worst streets might make sense, but they are very expensive and not necessarily highly traveled.

The question for members of the advisory group will be which hue they want to try to change — fixing up some of the worst streets or keeping more of the fairly good streets from falling apart.

In this case, Frost’s original words apply:

“Nothing gold can stay.”

He is right, those streets could earn a red label over time.

Down the Road

• Crews working for the Arizona Department of Transportation are expected to finish paving 14 miles of westbound Interstate 10 east of Benson this week. Between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, drivers should expect temporary lane closures and traffic delays.

• A two-mile segment of Interstate 10 between Tucson and Benson will see delays this week as traffic is rerouted away from construction crews. Traffic in both directions of I-10 will share the newly constructed westbound bridge over Cienega Creek for about four months while ADOT builds a new eastbound bridge.

• Crews with ADOT will also continue to resurface a part of Arizona 85 in Ajo this week. Portions of the newly paved highway will be closed from 4 a.m. until 4 p.m. on both Monday and Tuesday before fully reopening to traffic.

On StarNet: Read more Road Runner columns and updates. Go to