County fighting to stay ahead of pothole problem

Pothole problem increases around Tucson

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Because Pima County has 1,400 miles of poor and failed roads, potholes become a problem when it rains.

Water gets underneath the pavement causing it to weaken, allowing heavy trucks and vibration to break it apart.

The county has nearly 2,000 miles of roads altogether, however much of it is not up to quality standards.

County workers have been trying to keep up during the rainy season but it’s been difficult.

“It’s busier than the last 43 years I’ve been here,” said Alano Valeuzuela, a veteran of the transportation department. “It’s probably one of the busiest.”

He’s part of a crew repairing a very large pothole which opened up on Orange Grove just East of Oracle Road.

It’s a busy street and the call quickly became a priority. The workers use asphalt shoveled from the back of a truck to fill several smaller holes that have opened up on the road.

“Hopefully it will last a couple of months at least,” said Johnny Avalos. If it rains it “could be less than that.”

It’s a never ending cycle for the more than 30 workers whose task is to fix the potholes.

“It’s constant, so we’re busy all the time,”Avalos said. “There’s no catching up.”

The county has been able to whittle a case load of 800 back logged calls down to a manageable 80, but when it rains, the calls increase again. And it’s been raining a lot. Often, it appears workers are fixing the same potholes over and over but that is not necessarily the case.

“When it rains, the pavement cracks, water gets in and it may not be that exact hole that needs to be fixed again,” said Ana Olivares, the Pima County transportation director. “It creates a new hole right next to it so you have to come out to patch that one."

Olivares says the county may hire more workers because it just approved spending up to $416,000 to buy five new trucks which will be dedicated solely to pothole repair.

It will bring the number of pothole crews up to eight.

Anyone experiencing an issue or seeing a pothole, can report it to the county “Pothole Hot Line” at 724-6410.

Copyright 2018 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.