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Road relief may be coming

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

There's no question the roads in Tucson and Pima County have deteriorated badly in the past few years.

Part of the blame, everyone readily admits, falls on the shoulders of the Arizona State Legislature.

Six years ago, state lawmakers needed money to balance their budget. 

There was a large pot of cash in the Highway User Revenue Funds, money earmarked too repair roads.

Every time a gallon of gas is pumped, some of the 18 cents gas tax Goes into the fund.

Lawmakers voted to sweep the money, called hurf funds, to balance the budget.

Potholes appeared, roads got rough and voters complained about how bad the roads had become.

Tucson voters passed a $100 million bond package to repair them. Pima County turned to the general fund.

Every city and county is the state was affected and every one complained.

Lawmakers finally got the message.

But not until they had a fat wallet.

"We ended up last year with nearly $900 million in the bank," Governor Jan Brewer proudly proclaimed to an audience of business leaders at the El Conquistador resort on Oro Valley.

It appears some of the surplus will be targeted for roads.

"I'm going to release my budget Friday," the Governor said. "So stay tuned."

"We're relieved by that," says District 4 county supervisor Ray Carroll. "We'd love an IOU to be repaid for those sweeps that happened in the past."

But he adds it's a start.

"We're delighted the governor has a mutual priority with Pima County," he says.

If lawmakers restore the HURF funding, it will amount to about $8 million for the city and county.

 "We're going to need a lot more than that," says Mike Varney, President and CEO of the Tucson Chamber of Commerce. "It's a great start."

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