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Unpaved roads generate dust. There is nothing the County can do about dust. We sometimes use water when doing major work on our dirt roads, but we just do not have the resources to use water trucks every time a road is graded.
Arizona experiences extreme temperatures with the summer season being the longest of the year. The dry climate encourages rapid evaporation of moisture. The County does not own enough water trucks and does not have funds available to purchase additional water trucks nor the enormous amount of precious water to wet down dirt roads - when evaporation would occur in a very short time. Dust is a fact of life for most rural residents.
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Funds used to maintain and construct County roads are not derived from property taxes but from State of Arizona allocations of Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF). These funds are collected by the State of Arizona from the gasoline and diesel fuel tax and the vehicle license tax. The State Legislature then distributes these funds to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), Arizona cities and counties using a complicated formula. The order of priorities set by the State for distributing HURF is: ADOT, Arizona cities, the two metropolitan counties (Maricopa and Pima) and finally, the thirteen rural counties. The Board of Supervisors, therefore, does not determine the amount of HURF coming into the County each year. However, the Board does control how these funds are spent within the County.
Cochise County is governed by State Statutes as to how public funds are spent on roadways.
If the road in question is not currently in the Cochise County Road Maintenance System and has not been accepted by the Board of Supervisors for maintenance, then the use of HURF funds is governed by Arizona Revised Statute Section 28-6705 which states: "The Board of Supervisors may expend public funds for maintenance of public roads and streets other than legally designated state and county highways located outside the limits of an incorporated city or town. Before expending public funds thereon, such roads or streets shall be laid out, opened and constructed without cost to the county and fully completed in accordance with a plat approved pursuant to Section 11-802 and Section 11-806.1, and in accordance with Standard Engineering Road Specifications adopted by the County Board of Supervisors to insure uniform compliance. Public funds may be expended by the Board of Supervisors for maintenance of public roads and streets laid out, constructed and opened prior to June 13, 1975 even if such roads and streets were not constructed in accordance with subsection "A" of this section.
Since the County does not have adequate funds to upgrade all County roads, the Board of Supervisors approved Resolution 15-25 (PDF) (Procedures for a Public and Private Partnership for the Improvement of Roads) whereby the users of eligible public roads may enter into a Public/Private Partnership with the County to participate financially in the upgrade of their road from a dirt surface to a chip sealed surface. View the entire packet (PDF). If you are unable to download the resolution or application packet or have questions please our staff at: 520-432-9310 or by email the Highway Division. Our staff will be available to help with questions.
Another method provided by State Statute for improving a roadway that does not qualify for public funds is to form a Road Improvement District. The basic requirement for formation of such a district is that a consensus to incur the necessary expenses must be reached by either a majority of the persons owning property or the owners of 51% of the property within the limits of the proposed district. Each parcel will then be assessed an equitable share of the costs on each parcel's tax bill.
We would advise checking with the Cochise County Public Works Department prior to purchasing property in the unincorporated areas of the County to find out the maintenance status of a road. In the meantime, for this information, contact: 520-432-9310 or email the Public Works Department. Unpaved roads are not always smooth and are often slippery when wet. The public will experience an increase in vehicle maintenance costs when regularly traveling on rural County roads.
The current grading schedule is as follows:
Please note: The above schedules are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances such as heavy rain storms, equipment breakdowns, etc.
"Primitive Road" is a special designation of public roads established by State Statute Section 28-6706. These roads are substandard dirt roads that have been maintained by the County prior to June 13, 1975. On this date, Arizona counties were granted the authority to establish road construction standards and require that roads opened after this date meet those standards before receiving publicly funded maintenance. Primitive roads are signed as such as a warning to the public of the substandard conditions. This allows the County to perform minimal maintenance with minimal exposure to liability.
One of the most important recurring functions of the Highway Division is to grade dirt roads that are within the maintenance system. Due to the County's extremely dry climate, the roads are often dusty and corrugated. The "wash board" effect cannot be eliminated by "ripping them out" because without the proper moisture content and the appropriate compacting equipment, this would create a larger problem than that which already exists. Also, more frequent dry blading only makes these conditions worse.
This department is committed to maintaining the hundreds of miles of dirt roads within the County to the best of our ability with the funding, equipment and manpower available.
The County does not repair roads specifically for emergency vehicle access. Unfortunately, the State of Arizona allows land to be developed and access roads to be constructed but does not regulate, inspect or monitor the construction of such roads. This is called "unregulated growth" and most County roads were constructed without review by engineers or flood technicians. Therefore, there are no standards established by the State of Arizona for road development, which would better assure access for emergency vehicles.
Emergency response times for the Sheriff's Department, fire departments, medical care, etc. cannot be guaranteed. Under some extreme conditions, residents may find that emergency response is extremely slow and expensive.
The purchase, installation and maintenance of driveway culverts are the responsibility of the property owner. The Public Works Department does not install, maintain nor clean out driveway culverts.
Please note: The County will only install a driveway culvert during the time of a major reconstruction project on a county maintained road.
Roadside ditches are necessary to convey runoff flows, thereby enabling roadways to remain more passable from adjacent properties. The means of access across roadside ditches must be configured to preserve adequate drainage. Therefore, if a resident desires access to private property via a driveway culvert across roadway ditches within County public, maintained rights-of-way, a County Right-of-Way permit must be completed and submitted to the Cochise County Engineering and Natural Resources Department, along with the appropriate fee, for review.
If the permit is approved and installation is determined to be compatible with existing conditions by the County, including drainage, flow line elevations and maintenance requirements, the resident can then purchase and install a driveway culvert according to the specifications as outlined within the permit.
Large culverts under the roadways are the responsibility of this department and are on the maintenance schedule.
A Permit Application for Construction in County Right-of-Way (ROW) must be obtained and approved before work can be done in the right-of-way. This would include public utilities, contractors, and individuals. There is a filing and inspection fee charged to each applicant to assure that the use of the County property is in compliance with permit conditions. There is no permit requirement to work on non-County maintained roadways or easements. Also see ROW Ordinance 035-06 (PDF).
During and immediately after thunderstorms, County resources only allow this department to set up barricades, "flood" and "road closed" signs, and to assess damage to County maintained roads. Due to the limited amount of manpower and equipment, this department does not have the ability to repair roadways during a rainstorm nor do we use County equipment to pull stranded motorists from washes. If a motorist chooses to cross a wash that has been signed "Do Not Enter When Flooded", it is the motorist's responsibility to have the vehicle towed. The Public Works Department works in conjunction with officers and dispatchers from the Sheriff's Department to make sure that weather-related signage is installed and properly placed during extreme weather conditions.
Once the weather conditions have improved and the dirt surfaces have begun to dry, this department will begin to repair damaged roadways in a timely and effective manner.
During rainstorms and the subsequent slippery conditions of the roads, we highly recommend the following to the traveling public:
Natural disasters, especially flash floods, can destroy roads. Cochise County will repair and maintain only those roads within the maintenance system. A dry creek bed can become a raging torrent and wash out roads, bridges and culverts. Drivers are cautioned to drive at prudent speeds and exercise due caution on dirt roads.
The Board of Supervisors of Cochise County is solely authorized to grant the abandonment of public rights-of-way within the unincorporated areas of Cochise County. The process to have an abandonment request reviewed and submitted to the Board of Supervisors is explained in the Roadway Abandonment Policy and Procedures (PDF). This document also contains an Application Form that must be submitted with any applicable fees. To contact the Right-of-Way Section to discuss the right-of-way you are proposing for abandonment. Email the Highways Division, or call 520-432-9300. You can also write to:Cochise County Public Works Department1415 Melody LaneBuilding FBisbee, AZ 85603
All checks shall be made out to the Cochise County Public Works Department.
County Maintained Road Atlases are computer generated using GIS software. Please contact the Highway and Floodplain Department for the most current Maintained Road System data. Contact our Administration Office for details.
Presently Cochise County maintains 1,441 miles of roads, of which 680 miles are paved and 761 miles are dirt. The paved roads consist of 103 miles of major collectors, 158 miles of minor collectors and 345 miles of local roads and streets. Most of the traffic is carried on the collectors, however, only 77 miles of the collectors are properly surfaced with asphalt concrete. The remaining 154 miles of collectors are dirt roads surfaced with a light coat of petroleum and rock chips commonly called a "chip seal." The un-surfaced dirt roads consist of 619 miles of low volume collectors and local roads and 255 miles of "Primitive Roads", as they are defined in Question 3. There are 2,470 additional miles of sub-standard dirt roads used by the public in the County that are not maintained by the County. Some of these roads are in public rights-of-way and others in private easements.
A quirk of the Arizona State Land Development law allows the construction of roads that do not meet County roadway standards to provide access to land. These sub-standard roads are being created on a continual basis. These roads are not eligible for publicly funded maintenance until they are constructed to County roadway standards, referenced in Question 2.
Citizens can assist us by reporting potentially hazardous road and drainage conditions on County maintained roads to this department. It is important to provide the exact location of the problem (road name and any crossroad, mile post marker, which side of the road, etc.). Also, if a resident has any question or concern, we welcome the opportunity to respond and to assist County citizens with any road and/or drainage related issues.
Main office location and mailing address:Public Works Department1415 Melody LaneBuilding FBisbee, AZ 85603Main Office Phone: 520-432-9310Toll Free Phone: 800-752-3745
Email Public Works Highway Division
To inquire about roadway conditions anywhere in the State of Arizona on State Routes, call the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) toll free at 888-411-7623. Follow the menu options and get additional information about the service. (Updates to information are made every five minutes.)