Some of the worst bridges of Pima County - by almost any measure - can be found on a sleepy road between Green Valley and Madera Canyon.
Drivers are as likely to encounter cows standing in the middle of the road as often as they are to see another vehicle.
The problem with the three bridgelike structures along the seven-mile stretch of road is their potential to create bottlenecks along the rural route.
The two bridges as well as a box culvert similar to a bridge date back to the 1930s, although some believe they might have been reinforced to carry a nuclear-tipped Titan 2 intercontinental ballistic missile more than 50 years ago.
County officials are considering weight-limiting the structures in order to extend their useful life without having to rebuild them. The estimated cost to fix the three structures is roughly $2 million.
Tom Purdon, president of Friends of Madera Canyon, wants the county to fix the three structures, but not replace them.
He says he wants the bridges to be safe for those traveling over them without spending millions to replace the rural structures.
His opposition to new bridges, however, may also be related to opposition to the proposed Cielo Madera Estates, which would build 180 homes on one-acre sites on 744 acres near the entrance to Madera Canyon.
The Friends of Madera Canyon has opposed the project by developer Michael Kettenbach for a number of years, and the single-lane and possibly weight-limited bridges could serve as the perfect bottleneck. It's hard to get heavy equipment like bulldozers over a one-lane bridge, after all.
Their opposition to replacing the bridges might have a fatal flaw, however.
If Kettenbach moves forward with the development, he could be required to perform a traffic analysis along Madera Canyon Road where the bridges are located.
If the development is shown to put enough stress on the road, the county could require him to pay for the bridge replacements.
Q: James Charron writes about a road no one wants to claim, asking who is responsible for road maintenance.
"We live in Desert Vista Terrace Community on the southeast side. There is an access road called Columbus Avenue extending from Benson Highway and south to Valencia Road. There is a section of Columbus, starting at Benson Highway and going south about maybe 20 to 30 yards, that is a total nightmare."
A: County officials acknowledge this segment of road is technically within Pima County. However, it is a nonmaintained road, which was never accepted for maintenance by Pima County. "This portion of Columbus will be improved in the future by a developer," writes Annabelle Valenzuela with the Pima County Department of Transportation. "It is tied to a development agreement with the city of Tucson for Desert Vistas Estates."
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