Brighter days, common sense - The Explorer: Editorials

Brighter days, common sense

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Posted: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:17 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Dave Pittman, director of the Arizona Builders Alliance in Tucson, says it's not a matter of if there'll be good economic news for Northwest Tucson.

It's when.

At a Friday forum on the economy arranged by the Northwest YMCA, Pittman pointed to "little signs of great news, particularly in the Northwest." He mentioned the University of Arizona's acquisition of the former sanofi-aventis research laboratory in Oro Valley's La Reserve, and the announced expansion of Sargent Controls in Marana, the latter with the help of tax incentives from town government.

"The Northwest side has a lot of good things to look forward to," he said.

And, deep down, everyone knows it's true. You don't have to shovel heat. You wake up on a glorious, freshly washed Tucson morning, and you have to be grateful to live in a place like this.

But this economic bottom, and in particular the housing bottom, is deep and wide, speakers agreed. Growth may still be years away. It's hinged upon jobs, and expanded population, to absorb the housing glut that would stabilize a vitally important sector and rekindle homebuilding.

If long-term discouragement is unwarranted, patience is needed.

When you sit through a presentation on the Ina / Oracle solution, as this writer did Thursday, a multi-pronged approach to traffic management makes perfectly good sense.

First, immediately, while Pima County spent a pile of money — $1.3 million — for the Shell station on Ina at Oracle, the decision to build dual ramps for westbound Ina travelers to turn north is clearly a good investment. In 40 years, and a billion or so smooth right turns later, no one will remember how much the real estate cost.

You may have read or heard of the "Michigan left," the traffic pattern that moves left-hand turners through an intersection so they can make a U-turn, then proceed.

Engineers on the Ina and Oracle project are calling it the "indirect left," and we all ought to remember it. That name is more descriptive.

Here's the trick about Ina and Oracle. Of the 96,000 (!!) vehicles a day moving through that busy crossroads, only about 4,000, or 5-ish percent, are trying to turn left onto Oracle. Yet they consume an inordinate amount of time in the intersection, and understandably so. Move them away, to new traffic lights on Ina hundreds of feet removed, and life will be smoother and faster for everyone else. Nice thinking. May it proceed, and may it be effective.

All but officially, Jerene Watson is the next town manager in Oro Valley.

The government veteran, who had been assistant town manager prior to becoming the interim boss in September, is likely to lose "interim" from her title at Wednesday's town council meeting.

You don't hear negative words, from inside or outside government, about Jerene Watson. She's competent and communicative, two highly sought qualities in a government leader. She's committed to the community. And, we suspect, once she's officially the town manager with the support of the town council, she'll take Oro Valley in new, strong directions.

The town council had been prepared to undertake a nationwide search for a new town manager. Why bother? You have someone from the inside, someone who knows how things work, who is respected and who is already serving well. As occurred in Marana, when Gilbert Davidson rose from an assistant's position into the lead job, Oro Valley is wise to promote from within.

—DPP

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