Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona

Is road rage in your future? Yes, thanks to the RTA

In 2006 voters approved a package of road improvements, bus pullout improvements, and bicycle path improvements and the creation of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) to oversee the projects.

RTA construction projects have been popping up all over town– like the bus pullouts at Fort Lowell and Campbell, which seemed to take forever to complete. Whew, glad that one’s done, but look for more cumbersome transportation “fixes” in the near future, as “planners” implement multiple clusterf**ks on our roadways.

Back in March, the local news reported that “planners” want to “fix” the intersection at Grant and Oracle Roads by eliminating left turn options unto Oracle. People who want to turn left will have to go through the intersection and make a u-turn down the road. (People driving westbound on Grant who really want to go southbound will be jockeying for position with hundreds of others who are trying to get to Interstate 10.) This will be a MESS at rush hour. Have the “planners” traveled that stretch of Grant Road between Oracle and I-10 recently? Traffic backs up long before you reach the multiple stop lights near the freeway. Add people driving westbound who really don’t want to go that direction to the mix, and what do you have? Yes, a cluster.

Initially, the local news reported that only Grant and Oracle would have u-turn solution to traffic “management.” Now we find that transportation “planners” are planning to implement the same “fix” at the intersection of Ina and Oracle Roads.  Monday’s Arizona Daily Star reported that “planners” have proposed the same stupid solution for traffic that backs up at the Ina and Oracle intersection– eliminate left turns onto Oracle and force people to drive out of their way to wait at u-turn bays to go back to the light they just went through and wait in a right-turn lane to go the direction they really wanted to travel.

Who’s idea was this? Is this the best idea RTA planners can come up with?

This u-turn mania is reminiscent of the dance Tucsonans used to do on Grant Road when those stupid cones were in place. For people who are new to town, for more than 15 years, Tucson had a ridiculous system on Grant Road and 5th/6th Street in which no left turns were allowed during rush hour, and the left turn lane became a temporary a through lane– aptly dubbed the “suicide” lane because it went west in the morning and east in the evening. Drivers who wanted to turn left off of Grant had to turn right, make a u-turn and then go the direction they really wanted to go. Grant Road was a disaster because people were always trying to make illegal left turns– particularly around midtown where the big grocery stores are. (I used to ride the #9 Grant Road bus everyday when I worked at the University. I routinely witnessed people trying to make illegal lefts; others would honk; and oncoming traffic would come to a screeching halt to avoid smashing into the stupid motorist sitting in the turn-lane-turned-through-lane. One night, I witnessed a full head-on collision.) Why would be go back to this?

I agree with this article: Blame not so easily placed on ‘stupid motorists’. It talks about the dumb idea of paving washes which routinely flood during the monsoons. Arizona’s Stupid Motorist Law says if you get stuck in one of those flooded washes, you have to pay a heavy fine if a rescue team is called to fish you out. From the Star

The monsoon always brings a flood of stories about “stupid motorists” who drive through flowing washes – but the really stupid practice is paving dips and washes and calling them streets, says a UA researcher.

Most motorists who drive through washes have very rational reasons for doing so, said University of Arizona researcher Ashley Coles.

The irrational ones are the ones who designed the streets,” said Coles, a Ph.D. candidate in geography… [Emphasis added.]

Whether it’s paving washes and pretending they’re safe to travel or creating unnecessary u-turns which are not only dangerours but also waste time and gas, the RTA needs better planning and fresh ideas to Tucson’s transportation issues. Unnecessary u-turns are a temporary solution at best. The cones were supposed to be short-term, and they cluttered our roads for more than a decade.

What happens when motorists start suing the RTA for accidents caused by the u-turn design? Will that force the RTA to come up with real solutions?

6 comments on “Is road rage in your future? Yes, thanks to the RTA

  1. Donny
    June 13, 2011

    Well its Arizona, can you expect them to do anything right? We could have had another interstate, instead you people wanted to build a $250 million hotel, which never even got, and lost all the money. Its like Stevie Wonder picked up a marker, drew a bunch of lines and said “This is Tucson’s road system” and everyone around him said “WHOA THATS A GREAT IDEA” and now we are suffering, and it looks like it is getting no better. Oregon is looking like a better choice every single day for me…I am so tired of the incompetence of this state.


    • Fraser007
      June 13, 2011

      Join the biggest club in the world. We are so dumb here.


  2. teacherx
    June 13, 2011

    Since when you’re traveling westbound on Ina towards Oracle the cluster already seems to be on the right turn lane to go north (especially during rush hour), I can’t imagine how much worse this is going to make that side of the intersection.


    • Pamela Powers
      June 13, 2011

      You are absolutely right about that. I’ve been at that intersection at 3:30 p.m going west, and the right turn (going north) is way backed up even then.


  3. Guy Mac
    June 13, 2011

    Why does it take forever for these intersection upgrades to be completed? Speedway & Harrison has been under construction for 6 months at least and looks halfway done. Craycroft & Grant took the better part of a year. It seems to me that then entire widening of Speedway, which was 20 years ago, was completed in less than a year?


    • Pamela Powers
      June 13, 2011

      Good question. Why is the Grant Road widening projected to take 20 frickin’ years? In Ohio, the road crews often worked 24/7 to get the job done. This would be a great idea for Grant Road construction because it was greatly speed up the project and lessen the impact on businesses.


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This entry was posted on June 13, 2011 by in Arizona, taxes, Tucson and tagged , , , .
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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela J. Powers

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals–not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election.

My platform focused on economic reforms to grow Arizona’s economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, grow local small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs.

In the Arizona House, I was a strong voice for fiscal responsibility a moratorium on corporate tax breaks until the schools were fully funded, increased cash assistance to the poor, expansion of maternal healthcare benefits, equal rights, choice, unions, education at all levels and protecting our water supply.

After three terms, I retired from the Arizona Legislature in January 2023 but will continue to blog and produce my podcast “A View from the Left Side.”

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