The fledgling Regional Transportation Authority last week released a draft of a $1.9 billion plan to fix roads and improve bus service, funded through a county-wide half-cent sales tax over the next 20 years. The proposal wisely dumps grandiose and/or screwball ideas sure to stir opposition at the ballot box--freeways, grade-separated intersections, light rail--and instead focuses on the old-fashioned widening of major corridors to increase traffic capacity.
Roughly 75 percent of the money will be spent on roads, including widening Grant, Tangerine, Houghton and Valencia roads, and Broadway and La Cholla boulevards. The screwiest proposal, at our first glance: $200 million for an extension of the eastern end of the little-used Barraza-Aviation Parkway to Interstate 10. The plan also increased bus pull-outs, right-turn lanes and other low-cost methods of improving traffic flow, as well as bike lanes.
The remaining 25 percent of revenues will be spent on improving mass transit, including extended evening and weekend bus service, bus service in Green Valley, Marana, Oro Valley and Rita Ranch, and a neat-o urban streetcar that would carry passengers between University Medical Center and downtown.
RTA officials, who say they are willing to tweak projects based on public response before voters decide its fate next May, have launched an outreach program to get your opinion on the plan. This week's meetings are from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 14, at the Randolph Golf Course Clubhouse, 600 S. Alvernon Way; and 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 16, at the Rancho Resort, 1330 W. Sahuarita Road (at Interstate 19 and Sahuarita Road). For details on the proposal, visit www.rtamobility.com.
Asked whether Bush would follow through with his promise to fire whoever had broken the law by leaking the identity of an undercover CIA agent, White House spokesman Scott McClellan, who had previously insisted that it was "ridiculous" to suggest Rove was involved, said he now could not comment on the case because it remained under investigation.
Members of the committee rejected an effort to delay the vote until next month, when McCain could attend the meeting to defend himself.
The resolution mirrored the language in McCain's deal with Democrats on judicial filibusters, stating that "only under extremely 'extraordinary circumstances' will we support the candidacy of John McCain for president of the United States."
Leal, a Democrat seeking his fifth term, had raised more than $35,000 through May 31, according to a report that was filed on time.