Paul's Note - February 4, 2022

We had two big transportation issues on the agenda at this week’s council meeting. 

One was regarding continued city involvement in the Regional Transportation Authority. This was initially authorized in 2006 and I am not alone in having issues with how it has been governed. I think all of us recognize that regional needs are important to all of us, no matter where we live. However, there are many times where it seems that the needs of city residents, who are 54% of the county’s population and over two-thirds of the tax base, have been disregarded. Frankly, had the county “gone at it alone,” without city buy in, they would have had a hard time passing an extension without city voters, who have been more supportive of such measures than those outside city limits. 

Although, the members of the RTA wouldn’t agree to allow for a weighted representation, the plan is to allow for more representation for the city on RTA committees which gives us a much bigger voice in decision making. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great opportunity for us. 

As you know, the RTA pays for big road projects (East Broadway and Houghton Road are two that impacted us here in Ward 2), but when my staff and I hear from neighbors about roads, it’s usually about neighborhood streets. Tucson Voters passed a tax in 2017 that has improved 288 lane miles of streets in Tucson, including 133 lane miles of neighborhood streets. That is set to expire. The Mayor and Council will be asking the voters to extend that tax with a focus on neighborhood streets for another ten years in May. The goal is to touch every street, not necessarily with a repaving (they don’t all need it), but to have some sort of improvement. 

Not part of the ballot language but in a related item that was part of the motion, we are committing $18 million to improve 911 services every year for the next five years. 

In total, we are projecting $600 million to be spent on roads over the next year. 

For your information, it will be on the ballot as Proposition 411. 

As you know, I’m a big proponent of sports tourism and the economic impact it can have on our region. Our mild winter weather allows us to bring in many events this time of year. This weekend, Tucson hosts another tournament. 

Southern Arizona Adaptive Sports will be hosting the 2022 Arizona Open Wheelchair Tennis USTA Level 3 & Junior Wheelchair Tennis Series Tournament February 4-6. The competition begins today at 4:00 pm, with matches continuing on Saturday at 9:00 am, and finals on Sunday at 9:00 am. The full schedule can be found at https://playtennis.usta.com/Competitions/southernarizonaadaptivesports/T...

This year’s tournament will feature 30 players from 12 states, plus 12 players from Arizona. This is the first time many of them will get to compete in quite some time since COVID has cancelled so many events over the last two years. 

All matches take place at the Reffkin Tennis Center 50 S. Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85711. The public is invited and required to observe COVID-19 protocol by masking and maintaining social distancing.