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Tucson voters overwhelmingly OK continued 1/2-cent sales tax for roads

Prop. 411 gets 73% of vote in earliest results, Romero says 'we have our marching orders'

Tucson streets will get about $740 million in increased attention over the next decade, as local voters voted almost 3-1 in favor of Prop. 411 to fund transportation improvements in an special election Tuesday.

Voters voted 73-26 in favor of the measure in the first results released, with about 25 percent turnout.

"With the passage of Prop. 411, we embark on a historic effort to fix all of our neighborhood streets," Mayor Regina Romero said.

Related: What the Devil: Prop. 411 is in the bag, now Tucson must move on with RTA

"We have our marching orders for Tucson," Romero told a group of about three dozen supporters of the measure gathered at a Midtown restaurant Tuesday night. The proposition will be "one of the largest investments that we've ever seen" in the city," she said.

In the first tally released, 52,844 voted for Prop. 411, while 19,149 voted against it. Two voters filled in both "yes" and "no" on their ballots — overvotes are not included in the votes for or against the measure. Another 29 voters submitted blank ballots — such undervotes are also not considered as valid votes.

The proposition will extend an existing tax which is set to expire this year, and dedicate it to street improvements and transportation projects. A vote-by-mail ballot was sent to each of the 286,000 registered voters within the city limits last month.

As of Tuesday afternoon, about 74,000 ballots had been returned, verified by the Pima County Recorder's Office and turned over to city officials for counting. The initial vote count released included 72.024 ballots. Ballots dropped off Tuesday still need to be verified and added to the county, but are not expected to change the margin substantially.

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More than half of ballots returned before the weekend were from Democrats, with 36,000 mailing back their votes. About 17,000 Republicans and 12,000 other voters had also returned their ballots.

"Tucson overwhelmingly said 'yes' to this important investment in our community," Romero said.

Backers of the measure, which did not prompt any organized opposition, said it will result in work on "every neighborhood street" over the next 10 years, as well as street-safety and pedestrian improvements.

In the May 2017 special election that saw voters institute a half-cent sales tax for public safety and street improvements for five years, about 72,000 votes were cast, with 28 percent voter turnout.

That half-cent tax will be continued for a decade, and spent on repairs to neighborhood streets, as well as bicycle and pedestrian safety measures, sidewalks, lighting, traffic signals, and traffic-calming infrastructure such as roundabouts.

The Prop. 411 tax, which would not increase the city's current level of 2.6%, would raise about $740 million over that decade, officials forecast.

More info on the proposition can be found at www.tucsonaz.gov/Prop411.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Mayor Regina Romero is congratulated as backers of Prop. 411 learn of their win Tuesday night.