A cyclist rides east on Third Street avoding the cracks.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.


16 thoughts on “Portions of Third Street and Treat Avenue to be repaved”
  1. Great news! I’ve been specifically avoiding these streets for a while, despite their low traffic, due to the poor pavement. I bet some of the businesses (Arizona Bicycle Experts) are happy as well.

  2. although I appreciate any road improvements, 3rd AVENUE is in terrible condition between Speedway and 9th street.  I’d be nice to have a reasonalbe alternative to 4th ave with the street car issues, some of the pot holes are huge!

  3. Bicycles don’t need ‘glass smooth’. The pavement on that section of third st. isn’t the worst.
    It’s the canyons that run across and parallel to travel that are the discomfort and ambush to cyclists. Really, I don’t see the value of looking for ways to spend maximum money on things that are not going to receive even minimal care and allowed to remain in disrepair for decades. What’s so wrong with addressing streets where the pavement is in overall lousy condition. I’d be OK with chip seal instead of what currently exists on some of these ‘alligator’ sections. Maybe I need to know more about asphalt. Maybe TDOT needs to know more about bicycles.

  4. @zz I have to disagree about the chip seal.  On a really bad street all it does is hide the bumps so you can’t see them.  Maybe some stretches where it’s only ‘alligator’ roughness would be OK, but almost every section there are broken pieces of asphalt and big cracks.

  5. Are you sure it’s Treat between Speedway and Grant?  That stretch isn’t nearly as bad (or as heavily traveled) as between Speedway and Broadway.

  6. My concern is how they’ll handle the 3rd/Campbell intersection during the repaving. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that this is the most important stop light for cyclists in all of Tucson. If they close 3rd for the duration of the work, there won’t be a safe crossing into the University.

  7. “…sections of Third Street and Treat Avenue, which were selected to be repaved in the next year.”
    Sorry, but this is vague. By “next year” do we mean  within 365 days from today or do we mean the year 2015 which is the next year (this being the year 2014)?

  8. @Collin Forbes Ideally, Jersey barriers on the East side of Campbell from Hawthorne to 4th. That would flow cycle traffic around 3rd and Campbell. But that might cost too much.

  9. Red Star I’m not entirely clear on the target start or completion date. Cole did say there was a team of four who were already starting to prepare the process to accept construction bids. 
    The impression I got was that getting the work rolling and showing that the city is making progress is important. 
    I’ll follow up and see if I can get a more solid date.

  10. Red Star That would be great! Actually, I was just hoping that they’ll handle it the same way they’d handle repaving an arterial street — half the road at a time.

  11. I agree with Steve Wilson.  Treat between Broadway and Speedway, along Himmel Park, is a real mess, and needs fixing much more than the section north of Speedway!

  12. I’m only finding this article several months after it gets posted, but I am now regularly using the Treat/3rd Street stretch for my U of A work commute. My two cents . . . 

    There is a section of northbound Treat – a couple hundred feet long, perhaps – immediately north of 3rd that has to be the among the bumpiest  stretches of roads I’ve ever experienced in Tucson. It might be wishful thinking to envision major sections of 3rd and Treat getting repaved (and that last stretch of 3rd Street just east of the University is mildly annoying) but the above mentioned Treat stretch is worthy of completely digging up and replacing. 

    Also . . . wouldn’t it be nice if the the pedestrian crossing on Treat at Speedway get upgraded to a proper bike crossing, such as you find on Country Club and 3rd Street?

  13. Yes, I forgot about this blog page until I got an email notification of your post, Dom. 

    Beyond the mention in my previous post of a bumpy patch on Treat, it’s worth noting that Third Street between Tucson and Campbell was something I characterized then as “mildly annoying.” After attempting 
    to use that stretch of road over the past year to regularly commute by bike, I’d like to revise my rating to 
    “a complete pain in the posterior,” both figuratively and realistically. The series of deep cracks in the road surface there occurs every 30 feet or so and run full street width.  Unlike potholes, you can’t maneuver around them. The cracks are of the exact dimension that you can almost feel your rims bottoming out against the road surface. Riding over these deep cracks day after day has proven so annoying – and I don’t want to subject my rims and tires to that abuse – that I no longer use that portion of Third Street . . . preferring, instead, any adjacent side street. Heck, even the unpaved alleys in the Sam Hughes neighborhood heading towards campus are smoother than that bumpy stretch of Third! 

    And . . . even through Treat Avenue is a designated an “official” bike route, crossing at the large east/west bound thoroughfares (not just Speedway) is always a dicey proposition. Much like bus routes in Tucson, all the emphasis on bike travel seems to be expended towards enhancing the east/west corridors. So, it’s not surprising that the various large street crossings on Treat are largely ignored. But it really is curious to witness Third Street near the east U of A entrance being allowed to deteriorate into such a washboard-like bumpy mess (and all the more surprising when you consider the high residential property values in that neck of the woods.)

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