One of the busiest intersections in the region will get a major overhaul. Backups at Valencia Road and Kolb Road are expected to diminish when the PAGI comes to town. That's short for parkway at-grade intersection.
The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) managed the design of the project on Valencia Road, from Wilmot Road to Kolb Road. It is one of 35 major corridor projects that Pima County voters approved in May 2006. Funding for RTA projects comes from a half-cent sales tax that voters approved, along with the plan.
The intersection will feature parkway-at-grade movements that use on ramps in place of left turns, as well as indirect left turns (u-turns). Sound confusing? No worries. Interstate quality signage will clearly direct drivers where to go. The improvements will alleviate traffic congestion and connect to future improvements on Valencia Road, east to Houghton Road.
Jim DeGrood, Deputy Director for Pima Association of Governments and a professional engineer, said, "The intersection will operate like a diamond interchange with a traffic signal in the middle. It is a very efficient way to handle traffic. Right now you have one lane of traffic moving, while 11 others are stopped. That is pretty inefficient movement."
The Valencia/Kolb intersection will be the first PAGI in the country, and because of that, the Texas A & M Transportation Institute, one of the premier higher education-affiliated transportation research agencies in the nation, has been at the intersection to study the turn movement problems the project will address.
The City of Tucson will manage the $20 million project. Construction is expected to begin late this year, and will take place over 24 months. DeGrood said traffic will actually improve during construction because crews will build the south on ramp first to accommodate vehicles that would have traveled through the intersection. When the project is completed, we will have a six-lane desert parkway with bike lanes and sidewalks, and of course, the PAGI.