Portions of Third Street and Treat Avenue to be repaved
A teeth chattering commute will be a thing of the past for thousands of cyclists who pass through sections of Third Street and Treat Avenue, which were selected to be repaved in the next year.
Third Street between Campbell and Tucson Boulevards and Treat Avenue between Speedway Boulevard and Grant Road both made the list of repaving projects as part of the city’s road repair bond.
Voters approved a $100 million street repair bond in 2012. $85 million of that is going to arterial streets across the region. The remaining $15 million for residential streets were picked by the commission.
The popular bike routes were among dozens of streets selected to be repaved in the coming year by a group of citizens appointed to a commission to determine how to best spend $15 million in repaving funds earmarked for residential streets.
Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee chair Ian Johnson was selected to be on the citizen’s commission. He suggested that popular bike routes be given more weight in the rankings because more people use them than the average residential street.
Tucson transportation director Daryl Cole said bike use was a topic the commission talked a lot about and he was pleased with the way they thought through the decisions they had to make.
“They looked at all the issues inside out and upside down.” Cole said. “They asked the tough questions and created a good process.”
Cole said there is a massive amount of information that goes into deciding which streets should be repaved because extending the life of decent pavement can be more beneficial from a cost perspective than repaving streets that are already failing.
The transportation department spent several meetings educating the commission about road maintenance to help them understand what would provide “the most bang for the buck.”
“I know more about asphalt than any non-traffic engineer should,” Johnson said.
Cole said the commission assessed neighborhood streets to see which streets were priorities based on the road conditions and the cost-benefit of repairing them.
Then the commission looked at the five most heavily used neighborhood bike routes and and rated those separately.
They looked for any overlap to see where they could improve bike routes and hit the other residential streets that needed work around them.
It turned out that Third Street and Treat Avenue were in neighborhoods with other streets that the commission identified as priority streets.
Johnson said if there is extra money from lower than anticipated construction costs, the sections of Third Street and Treat Avenue slated for repaving will expand.
The $100 million bond is not nearly enough money to fix Tucson streets, however.
“You could throw a dart at a map of Tucson and find a street that needs help,” Johnson said. “We are in really terrible shape.”
Cole said the city needs between $750-800 million to bring up all the streets to an excellent quality, but is excited about what they are getting started with the $100 million.
Cole said the city is going to spend more money on more costly treatments for the bike routes because the cheaper alternatives like chip sealing will not offer a smooth ride for bicyclists.
Additional residential streets will be identified for the following years of the bond, which calls for $3 million to be spent on residential streets over five years.