Tucson’s roads are terrible. And like light speed, photosynthesis and the UA’s superiority over ASU, it’s now a scientific fact.

Scientific verification of what every Tucson driver already knows can be found in a report by the Making Action Possible Dashboard project of the University of Arizona Eller College of Management, the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.

Their pothole index report says Tucson regional streets rank worst among a collection of 11 Western urban regions.

“What it says for the region is that we need to invest in our infrastructure,” said George Hammond, an economist at Eller College.

The report primarily used data from the Federal Highway Administration’s International Roughness Index, which uses sensors on cars to measure road vibrations. Those data showed the Tucson region’s major arterial roads are in much worse shape than others in the West and than the national average.

The study identified a national average road condition and gave it a roughness rating of 100. Each region’s roads were rated in points up or down from that average. The smaller the number, the better the road conditions, according to the report, titled MAP Dashboard. (“MAP” stands for Making Action Possible.)

Tucson scored 145.8 on the index, more than San Diego (135.8), Colorado Springs (130.2) and Las Vegas (40.3), among others.

Not something that a Tucson-centric Road Runner wants to own up to, but the lowest score among the 11 Western areas ranked was Phoenix, with an 18.7 on the scale.

But not everyone agrees with the report. Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild — whose expertise is probably a little more political than scientific — took issue with the data used to create the ranking.

“It’s unfortunate that the dashboard data is so out of date,” Rothschild said, noting that the information came from area road conditions in 2012.

He said the report doesn’t accurately reflect Tucson-area road conditions, especially within the city limits, as they stand today.

“Since the time of that data, the city has put at least $40 million into road repairs with another $60 million to go,” he said, in reference to the $100 million road bond that city voters passed in 2012.

Hammond said the report accurately reflects the reality at the time the data were gathered.

“We’re stuck with the data that’s available,” Hammond said, adding that the report will be updated as new data become available.

Hammond also said the city bond, and now the proposed $160 million county road-bond package, simply show that regional leaders have awakened to the reality that roads have been neglected for years.

“Overall, I think the emphasis on infrastructure is truly warranted,” he said.

Rothschild, too, said the region has neglected its roads but is now trying to make amends.

“The city bonds reflect a long-standing problem that is now being addressed,” he said.

Down the road
  • Installation of new valves on a water main will close the southbound center and right lanes of Wilmot Road from Fifth Street to Broadway on Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • The eastbound offramp of Interstate 10 at Valencia Road will be closed through Friday. Motorists are asked to use Alvernon Way as an alternate route.
  • The Broadway Citizens Task Force meeting that was canceled last week has been rescheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, 1200 N. Campbell Ave.

Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at 573-4241 or roadrunner@tucson.com. On Twitter: @pm929