Work set to start on major city street upgrades

2013-08-24T00:00:00Z 2013-08-28T16:14:06Z Work set to start on major city street upgradesBy Joe Ferguson Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The good news is 48 miles of rutted and potholed city pavement will see some upgrades over the next nine months.

The trade-off is that drivers will have to deal with disruptions and a detour on nearly every major street while the construction is underway.

The two biggest slices of the city’s $13.5 million road-repair pie are total rebuilds of a stretch of North Campbell Avenue near the University of Arizona sports complex and Wetmore Road where it fronts the Tucson Mall and other major shopping centers.

Neither of those projects will start until spring, however, avoiding potential conflicts with Christmas shopping and a highly anticipated basketball season.

The road projects are part of the $100 million, voter-approved Project 409, which seeks to improve 130 miles of major roads inside the city limits over the next five years.

The 70 projects vary in scope, size and location, with cheaper treatments far outnumbering the more expensive streets needing major reconstruction.

The resealing of a tiny section of Stone Avenue, for example, is estimated to cost a fraction of what’s required to rebuild Campbell Avenue between University Boulevard and Broadway.

The city’s director of transportation, Daryl Cole, said he hopes to move up a few projects currently slated to begin in the next fiscal cycle if all the projects come in on budget.

Tucson will use private contractors to perform the work, with the city staff overseeing the projects.

The city has set aside some additional funding for oversight as well as for testing of materials used by contractors, Cole said.

The city has nearly finished its first part of Project 409: repaving a section of Tucson Boulevard near Valencia Road.

The street still needs to be restriped next week, Cole said.

Some of the smaller projects, known as fog seals, are expected to get underway next month.

The city will set aside 15 percent — roughly $3 million a year — for fixing up residential streets, which have not yet been identified.

A citizens commission with appointees from the Tucson City Council and the City Manager’s Office will ultimately decide which residential streets will receive funding.

A decision from the commission on which residential streets to pave in the current fiscal cycle is expected in a few months.

Peter Zimmerman, who worked on the Yes on 409 Committee, said he was excited to see the projects move forward.

Last year, the city estimated 52 percent of major arterials, collectors and intersections are categorized either as failed, poor or fair.

The news was worse for residential streets; roughly 86 percent were classified at best as being fair, with many earning poor or failed rankings.

“Failing” streets, mostly found in residential and industrial areas, do not actually pose a serious safety hazard to drivers, officials say.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@azstarnet.com or 573-4346. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFerguson

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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