City councilman pitches new plan to fix old roads

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City councilman pitches new plan to fix old roads

CREATED Mar 21, 2012

Reporter: Marcelino Benito

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Pothole problems in Southern Arizona are nothing new, but with the government being forced to tighten its belt finding money to fix them is difficult at best. Now one city council member says he has the answer to help fix Tucson's roads.

 It's a game Tucson drivers like Mark Homan learn to play whether they like it or not. They learn to dodge the potholes.

"It's like an obstacle course," Homan said. "I tell you something though, they just keep growing."

Councilman Kozachik has a plan to fix Tucson's roads, but it's going to take collaboration from the City of Tucson, Pima County and most importantly the Regional Transportation Authority.

"I'm saying go ask the voters again, 'do you want new roads or fix the ones we have now with money we're already paying?'," Kozachik said.

Kozachik is betting voters will want to go with a fix. He wants the RTA to ask voters if they'd be okay setting aside 20 percent of their RTA tax dollars for road repair. For Tucson, that would mean $200 million for city roads.

"Our roads are in such lousy condition, the longer we wait, the more expensive it'll be," Kozachik said. "We are way beyond potholes right now, we're talking about road reconstruction."

KGUN 9 had questions and wanted answers from the RTA. Reporter Marcelino Benito asked Gary Hayes, RTA Executive Director, if Kozachik's plan was feasible. "There's no way we could put a credible plan before the voters this November," he said. Benito pushed a little further asking Hayes if Kozachik's plan was just political talk. "Councilman Kozachik and I agree on the problem, the issue is the solution."

Under the current voter approved 2006 RTA plan, the RTA is set to spend millions of dollars on the Broadway Corridor project. It calls among many things for an expansion of lanes. Homan, a Rincon Heights neighborhood resident says he'd rather see those millions go to road repair.

"Guess what, those new roads will require maintenance for years," Homan said. "If there's not enough money right now, why would we throw 74 million dollars at something that's not needed."

Hayes tells 9OYS the City is asking the wrong entity to help fix its roads and plug its potholes. He says there's money on the table at the state level. The state has swept away $12 million in Highway User Revenue Fund money. Hayes says it's not the RTA's responsibility to fix change a plan voters approved back in 2006. Kozachik's message is let the voters decide for themselves.

"They got their hand in the cookie jar," Kozachik said. "Let the voters tell you which cookie you want to use."

For this plan to move forward, the RTA would have to submit a proposal to the Pima County Board of Supervisors, then that board could vote on putting a new RTA plan on the ballot this November.