Resident fears expanding Orange Grove will cause more cars to crash in her neighborhood

Resident fears expanding Orange Grove will cause more cars to crash in her neighborhood

CREATED Jul 24, 2012

Reporter: Steve Nuñez

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Driving around town, especially during stop-and-go rush hour, is enough to give you a traffic headache every single day. So you'd think everyone would celebrate road expansion? Not so, for one resident who not only lives along Orange Grove but also drives it nearly everyday.

Christine Mathern said she's concerned more out-of-control cars will crash into her neighborhood.

"I'm very concerned about our kids walking to school and our houses being in danger," said Mathern.

That's because even when it's not rush hour, drivers heading east from I-10 run into a bottleneck that slows traffic along Orange Grove just past Camino De La Tierra.

So, to ease the congestion, Pima County plans to widen the road to include two more lanes along a two mile stretch.

For Mathern, more traffic means more problems.

Mathern claims three cars have crashed into her neighborhood in the last three years, including one that involved a drunk driver. A palm tree stopped the driver from crashing into her neighbors living room.

"She'd completely taken it out," said Mathern staring at skid marks on road that are still visible nearly one year later.

9 On Your Side Reporter Steve Nuñez asked: "What do you want Pima County to do?"

"I would like them to give us a little more barriers," said Mathern.

Nuñez asked: "Right now you want answers from Pima County?"

"Yes," answered Mathern

So, 9 On Your Side took Mathern's concerns straight to Pima County Transportation Director, Priscilla Cornelio.

"The walls that we would put up would not function to protect the properties," said Cornelio.

Cornelio goes on to tell 9 On Your Side the county is only required to build a protection wall if the noise exceeds levels similar to levels made by cars speeding on the freeway.

Nuñez asked: "But residents say it's not about the noise is about safety?"

"Again, the county, in the past, has traditionally not put up screen walls," said Cornelio.

Nuñez asked: "Should the neighborhood association put up the extra money to pay for speed bumps or possibly a wall to run along side Orange Grove?"

"They're doing the expansion and they're doing the widening of the road and it should be the responsibility of Pima County," said Mathern.

The bottom line for both sides? Money.
The $7.4 million project is barely enough to cover the cost to expand the road.

Mathern is also concerned because Tucson Electric Power is chopping down the palm trees in front of her house to relocate its power poles.

If you have something you'd like us to investigate, contact 9 On Your Side at 290-7726.