By Editors
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 12, 1997

Treading water

Rain is the inevitable result of the interaction of the moisture in the earth's atmosphere with a variety of forces, including but not limited to gravity and molecular agitation. It is the pressure valve for the evaporation portion of the water cycle.

Rain means refreshment from the blistering Arizona heat; rain nurtures plant life; rain means a time to pull out infrequently used umbrellas and parkas and actually recoup some of their cost; rain means a time to play in the puddles.

Sadly, in Tucson, rain also means that it's time to build an ark.

The drainage in this town is horrible. Even a mild rainstorm turns a moderately cracked and poorly-maintained street into a fast-moving stream. It's no better on and near University grounds. Second Street (especially between the parking garage and Harvill) and Drachman Street ("the River Drachman") are two of the most glaring examples of this sort of water-based ruin; it is highly recommended that pedestrians hire a gondola to cross either of these two de facto waterways.

Granted, we have it pretty easy, living in a desert; it seems fairly petty to complain about the effects of excessive precipitation in an area where an inch of rain is breaking news. Nonetheless, this problem is a legitimate hazard. Cars and bikes become more difficult to control in water that actually runs several inches deep; pedestrians face an increased risk of slipping, sliding, and falling in painful and potentially injurious positions. What's worse, with the already lax attitude pedestrians, motorists and bicyclists show each other, the rain can only make things worse. Traffic control and congestion are bad enough in this town without adding the problem of flooding. Put it all together, and the potential catastrophe is not visually appealing.

To its credit, the city of Tucson has done a great deal to improve street drainage in the past few years. Still, the city should focus more on the streets around the university, where traffic of every sort is especially congested. Street flooding, while a rare enough event as a fraction of the year, is nonetheless frequent enough to merit attention.

Yes, this will take funds from other, more popular projects. Yes, this will be an inconvenience to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians as the roads are torn up to at least improve the drainage.

These costs are ultimately worth bearing. Long-term, the damage and inconvenience these deluges cause are far greater than the immediate costs of preventing them. The decreased cost of road maintenance and repair alone should be valuable incentives.

And it's pretty unreasonable that you have to get your shoes, socks and feet completely drenched to go to class.

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