After writing two in-depth stories on Tucson's proposed transportation plan and half-cent sales tax last week, someone asked me about my opinion of the measures.
Honestly, I don't know how I would vote, but that's a moot point: I live outside the city limits. Though I work in Tucson and take a 40-minute commute along the Old Pueblo's streets twice a day, every day, my opinion doesn't count when it comes participating in the May 21 election. Neither does the opinion of the other 300,000-plus residents in the county who won't get a chance to vote on the tax we also likely will pay.
The three main thrusts of the plan (grade separated intersections, neighborhood street repairs and more money for Sun Tran) really won't impact how I get to work every day n of course, over the 10-year life of the plan, that may change. Along the same lines, I also can't imagine ever using a light-rail system in this town, as the plan's opposition is proposing.
Really, normal intersection congestion, unrepaired streets and thin mass transit are not among the top three things that frustrate me most about traffic in Tucson.
Ironically, construction probably tops the list. Of the most grueling, painful traffic delays I've experienced in this town, most have been caused by road construction, such as the seemingly endless projects along Cortaro or River roads.
Traffic accidents are another major problem, but a majority of those are probably caused by my third most frustrating factor: idiot drivers. My standing theory is that, with all of the college students, snowbirds, vacationers and new residents in Tucson, about one-third of the drivers on our streets have no idea how to get to where they are going. This would account for many things, such as people swerving across three lanes of traffic to make a turn or people driving really slow in the lefthand lane with their turn-signal on but never turning or people suddenly slamming on their brakes for no apparent reason.
Back to the transportation plan … In my opinion: the addition of grade-separated intersections would cause construction delays and would further confuse lost drivers; neighborhood street repairs would not cause construction delays or accidents because those are not busy streets and would therefore confuse only a limited number of lost drivers; and more Sun Tran routes would not cause traffic delays or accidents, but probably would not take idiot drivers off the road (if they can't figure out the street system in town, how can we expect them to understand where the bus system will take them?).
Still, I have a feeling the transportation plan will pass. How sad would it be if this rapidly growing, "technology-driven" metropolis couldn't pass a measure to simply repair potholes on its neighborhood streets and keep its buses running? As for street widenings and grade-separated intersections, that type of construction would be happening anyway and none of the planned construction would impede my path to work.
Kyle Schliesman may be reached at email@example.com or at (520) 294-1200, ext. 124.