Feb. 21, 2018 - One of the most anticipated projects in the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) plan is Broadway Boulevard, from Camino Seco to Houghton Road.
And now it’s here. The project is expected to go out for bid the last week of February. Once the City of Tucson selects a contractor, work will begin. More recently, you may have noticed the utility crews that are making upgrades ahead of the roadway construction.
The two-mile-long Broadway East project will widen the road to four lanes and include a raised median, drainage features (so rainwater goes under the road), bike lanes, sidewalks and public art.
The improved roadway will connect to the previously completed intersections at Camino Seco, Harrison Road and Houghton Road. City of Tucson project manager Greg Orsini said, “When this project is complete, the folks who use the roadway will have a safer and wider Broadway to use.... They are going to be much happier.”
If all goes as planned, construction will begin in early June, and take about 16 months to complete.
Jan. 31, 2018 - Regional Transportation Authority roadway project #32 is better known as the Houghton Road Corridor. When the current construction phase is done in early 2018, traffic will be shifted from the old 1960’s-era bridge to a new northbound bridge to make way for construction of a new southbound bridge.
The bridge project widens Houghton from two lanes to six lanes, adds bike paths and sidewalks. Construction of bridges over the Union Pacific Railroad started in spring 2017.
The City of Tucson is the managing agency on this RTA project. City of Tucson Project Manager Austin Wesnitzer says the impact of bridge construction will be minimal for drivers. "It's a pretty unique project...because of the construction sequencing, we will be able to keep the roadway open to current commuters."
South Houghton Road is a gateway to the east side of Tucson from Interstate 10. Some 12,000 vehicles cross the bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks every day.
Jan. 24, 2018 - Public art can be a reflection of what is important in a community. Naturally, our region’s rich and diverse cultural heritage gives us an impressive display of public art all across the region. In fact, it is your art.
Up to 1 percent of the cost of a Regional Transportation Authority-funded project may include public art. It can be as subtle as a decorative railing on a bridge, or as stunning as a steel sculpture in a median.
Jeff DaCosta with the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona describes public art as “a method of providing communities with a visual language of their values.” It also provides a path for people to get involved in their community. The nonprofit Arts Foundation oversees the process for selecting artists, the design and getting public input. DaCosta says community involvement is essential.
When you look at RTA art pieces, it’s easy to see how they are in harmony with their surroundings. Horse-themed art along the Houghton Road corridor fits in perfectly with the Western feel of the region’s east side. Local artist Simon Donovan who collaborated on the Houghton Road art recalls community meetings where residents talked about what they would like to see along the corridor. “We noted that there are a lot of horse properties out there, a lot of ranches, and we wanted to celebrate that aspect of the area.”
On the other side of town, the monuments along Silverbell Road capture the history of the west side, including the Anza Trail and Painted Hills Wash. The built-in benches provide resting spots for pedestrians.
The streetcar route showcases multiple art installations. The Mercado stop on the west end is another example of history and culture rooted in art. The tiles on the platform celebrate the crops once grown in the area and the people who lived there.
Next time you’re out and about, take a look around you. Public art is in every community in our region, and you just might see your culture and traditions looking right back at you.
Jan. 17, 2018 - Tangerine Road from Thornydale Road to Dove Mountain Boulevard has a whole new look. Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on this segment of Tangerine Road with recent paving and striping.
The new segment features a four-lane roadway, landscaped medians, bike lanes, sidewalks, multi-use paths, turn lanes, wildlife crossings, and drainage improvements that will allow for all-weather access.
Work on the section from Thornydale Road to La Cañada continues, and is expected to be completed in summer 2018.
Voters approved the Tangerine Road Corridor project in May 2006 as part of the 20-year Regional Transportation Authority plan. When completed, the Tangerine Road improvements will stretch from La Cañada Drive to Interstate 10.
Greenway project is connecting communities Jan. 9, 2018 - In its heyday, the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad carried people and freight through southern Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Today, a section of abandoned EP & SW railway in our region has a new purpose, and it is still bringing people and communities together.
In 2006, voters approved RTA funding for greenway projects, including the El Paso and Southwestern Greenway project. It is a classic example of regional cooperation that, when completed, will connect the cities of Tucson and South Tucson with a multi-use path that follows a six-mile long section of abandoned railway. The Regional Transportation Authority, the cities of Tucson and South Tucson, and Pima County are partners on the project.
South Tucson City Planner Mick Jensen said, “It’s a safe connector. It’s a car-free, pedestrian and bicycle pathway. It really will provide a lot of great opportunities for people to get to downtown from different parts of the community.”
The first 800 feet of trail is completed. It runs along the west side of Tucson’s downtown fire station. If you get a chance to visit the area, you will see how the entire six miles will look. Neighbors and businesses have weighed in on amenities they would like to see along the path, including lighting, benches, shade and a park.
Lifelong South Tucson resident Arlene Lopez is excited that the old track alignment has a new purpose. She said, “In my community, people have always ‘walked the tracks’…People have used that area for years, ever since I can remember. I think it’s a great project for families.”
The greenway will be constructed in sections but will follow the same master plan. Construction is expected to begin on the first South Tucson sections in 2018. Jensen said, “We hope to have it built all the way to Sixth Avenue here within two years, so between Sixth Avenue and Downtown, we would pretty much have a completed greenway.”
Jan. 3, 2018 - The Regional Transportation Authority has made it easier for commuters to take transit. The 20-year RTA plan funds park-and-ride lots across the region to support carpooling and transit options. Seven have been built to-date (click map to enlarge). The lots are located near bus routes so commuters can park their vehicles and ride the bus to their worksites.
So even if you don’t live close to a bus route, you can still connect with a Sun Tran or Sun Express bus to get to your destination. Visit SunTran.com to see if you can access a route to your workplace. By reducing the number of vehicles on the road, commuters help to reduce congestion and air pollutants.
Dec. 20, 2017 - Valencia Road, from Mark Road to Ajo Highway (State Route 86), is a Regional Transportation Authority improvement project approved by voters in May 2006.
This $37 million project, which is managed by Pima County, includes $15 million from the RTA. RTA funding is from a half-cent sales tax voters also approved in May 2006 to fund the 20-year plan.
Construction improvements will widen the existing roadway in order to enhance safety, reduce congestion, improve operations and increase mobility.
The project, one of 35 major roadway improvement corridors in the RTA plan, will feature additional travel lanes, raised landscaped median, bike lanes in each direction and a multi-use pathway for pedestrians. Intersection work is planned at Camino Verde, Wade Road, Valhalla Road and SR 86 to match or improve existing conditions.
In addition, the project will have major drainage improvements, including a crossing of the Black Wash, landscaping and public art along the corridor. Valencia Road, a major east-west arterial on the south side of the Tucson metropolitan area, is designated as a scenic major route in the Pima County Major Streets and Routes Plan.
The corridor has been divided into two phases.
- The first phase was constructed from Mark Road to Wade Road, which was completed in spring 2016
- The second (final) phase will be from Wade Road to SR 86 (Ajo Highway), and work is scheduled to commence in spring 2018.
Dec. 13, 2017 - If you drive on Interstate 10 through Tucson on a regular basis, you see an extraordinary transformation taking place. Work on the Ina Road traffic Interchange started in early 2017.
This project will enhance safety by eliminating the at-grade crossing on Ina Road at the railroad tracks and building an overpass that will take Ina Road over the tracks and Interstate 10. The overpass will eliminate the need for traffic to stop for 40 to 60 trains that cross Ina Road every day. In addition, I-10 will be widened and lowered as part of the design.
The total construction cost is $148 million. Funding partners include the Regional Transportation Authority, the Federal Highway Administration and the Town of Marana. The Arizona Department of Transportation is managing the project. Construction began in February 2017 and is expected to take two years to complete.
“When we complete this project, this area will be better for drivers because they no longer will need to wait for trains or cross the tracks on their way to work,” said Rod Lane, ADOT district engineer for the South Central District. “The added lanes on both Ina Road and I-10 should allow traffic to move through the area more efficiently.”
The frontage roads on both sides of the interstate will be elevated to intersect with the new alignment of Ina Road. The project will greatly improve east-west travel on Ina Road. West of the freeway, commuters will travel over new bridge structures that span the Santa Cruz River. Other features include improved drainage, lighting, landscaping, a multi-use path and bike lanes.
Although the Ina Road traffic interchange is closed during construction, Ina Road is open to allow access for businesses in the area, and visiting them during construction supports their economic vitality. Detours are clearly marked, as is access to businesses.
The Town of Marana developed a free app to help commuters navigate the construction. The map is fully interactive and offers project updates, detour information and a list of businesses along the project corridor.
Dec. 6, 2017 - The Houghton Road, Interstate 10 to Tanque Verde Road, project (also known as the Houghton Road Corridor) is a 13-mile corridor which consists of the following sections:
- Houghton Road: 22nd Street to Irvington Road. This project began design in late 2016 and has reached 60 percent design completion. Construction is expected to start in 2022.
- Houghton Road: Valencia Road to Mary Ann Cleveland Way. Design for this project began in mid-2017 and is anticipated to take approximately 24 months, with construction expected to commence in 2020.
- Houghton Road: Bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR). Construction began in March 2017 and should take approximately two years to complete.
- Houghton Road: UPRR to Interstate 10. This project is preparing for construction which is anticipated to begin in 2018. This project is one of the largest roadway projects in the 20-year Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) plan, which was approved by voters in 2006.
One of the phases on the corridor includes construction of the Houghton Road Bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad. Construction for this $11.3 million* bridge project began in March 2017 and will be constructed in two phases.
Construction is expected to take approximately two years to complete. When the work is done, traffic will be redirected to use both bridges, one for northbound traffic and the other for southbound traffic.
- The first phase will keep traffic on the existing bridge, while a new three-lane bridge is constructed. Once the new bridge is completed, traffic will be shifted over to the new bridge.
- The second phase will include demolishing the existing bridge and building a new three-lane bridge where the old bridge was located.
During this work, bats roosting underneath the existing bridge will be relocated. The bats typically roost in the thin expansion cracks located underneath the existing bridge during the day and then emerge at dusk in swarms to feed on mosquitoes and other insects, and pollinate local plants and crops. The bridge provides important roosting and nursery habitat for local bats.
Since modern bridge designs have done away with using the thin expansion cracks, crews will be installing bat boxes and other features underneath the new bridges where bats can migrate to and roost when the old bridge is removed. The bat boxes, which will be located under the new bridges, contain thin crevices for roosting habitat. Each bat box can hold more than 300 bats. The $88,000 bat box project is funded under the Wildlife Linkages category of the RTA plan.
*Construction costs of many RTA projects have come in under the engineer’s estimate. The low bid for this project was $11.3 million, or 33 percent under the engineer’s estimate.
If you have lived through a summer monsoon in the Tucson region, you know that washes fill up fast, and it doesn’t take long for some roads to flood. Flooded roads often lead to temporary closures, making through travel impossible.
Drainage improvements incorporated into RTA-funded roadway projects prevent or eliminate stormwater flooding. When streets are water-free, drivers experience fewer delays. This is especially important for emergency first responders who need quick access to their destinations.
New RTA-funded bridges, such as La Cholla Bridge, Sunset Road Bridge and Airmen Memorial Bridge, provide all-weather access across the region.
Drainage features on roadway project improvements include box culverts that direct water flow under the roads. An example of improved access during severe storms is the West Valencia Road from Wade Road to Mark Road project, completed in 2016 with a series of new drainage features and added safety for commuters.
Nov. 22, 2017 - In early 2017, Tucson’s eastern side of town gained a new regional corridor that connected Sabino Canyon Road, from just south of Tanque Verde Road, to Kolb Road.
The new regional corridor is one of 35 roadway corridor improvements approved by voters in 2006 as part of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) plan.
Construction of the project, which was managed by the City of Tucson, led to a new four-lane roadway with bike lanes and sidewalks extending Sabino Canyon Road south from its intersection with Tanque Verde Road to connect with Kolb Road, approximately one-third mile north of Speedway Boulevard.
Other improvements included new signals at both the Sabino Canyon Road intersections with Kolb Road and Crestline Drive, sound walls adjacent to the neighborhood to the west, bridges across Vincent Mullins Landfill and the Pantano Wash, drainage improvements, landscaping and public art. In addition, the project features LED street lighting for driver safety and neighborhood security.
This project also includes a transit layover and transfer point for Sun Tran routes 5, 8, 9 and 37.
And the best part … this connection makes the drive in this area so much more efficient. Traffic no longer has to go through heavy congestion at the Tanque Verde/Sabino Canyon intersection because of the Sabino Canyon north-south connection to Kolb Road.
Nov. 15, 2017 - The first phase of the Tangerine Road Corridor Project construction—the five-mile segment from Dove Mountain Boulevard/Twin Peaks Road to La Cañada Drive—is underway and anticipated to be complete in the summer of 2018. The roadway widening project, part of the voter-approved Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) plan, extends approximately 10 miles, from Interstate 10 to La Cañada Drive. Scheduling includes:
- Phase 1A – the two-mile segment from Dove Mountain Boulevard/Twin Peaks to Thornydale Road is scheduled to be completed in late summer of 2017.
- Phase 1B – the three-mile segment from Thornydale Road to La Cañada Drive is on schedule to be completed in the summer of 2018.
- The Dove Mountain Boulevard to I-10 section will be constructed during the fourth period (2021-2026) of the RTA plan.
This project will improve safety, access and circulation in the region because it will add capacity and prevent delays caused by drainage issues. The Town of Marana is the lead agency managing the project design and construction. Project partners include the RTA, Pima County and the Town of Oro Valley.
Some of the major features include:
- Widening the roadway to four lanes with landscaped medians to accommodate future traffic demands
- Providing facilities for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, including off-street multi-use paths.
- Installing additional turn lanes and signalization at key intersections
- Connects with recently completed widening of Tangerine Road east of La Cañada Drive
- Improves safety and access by eliminating dip crossings which cause road closures during heavy rainfall and dangerous sight distance problems
- Improves safety by providing roadway shoulders for bicycle travel
- Connects two state highway facilities, Interstate 10 and Oracle Road (State Route 77)
- Improves safety for both motorists and wildlife by providing wildlife crossings
- Improves pedestrian safety and ADA-accessibility to transit stops
Nov. 8, 2017 - A future transportation corridor in the heart of our region is Downtown Links. This new corridor, one of 35 regional transportation corridors funded through the Regional Transportation Authority plan, will be a 1.3-mile corridor that connects Barraza-Aviation Parkway to Interstate 10.
The four-lane roadway will include bike lanes, sidewalks and a multi-use path that will run north of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. Major drainage improvements will remove a large area of downtown and surrounding neighborhoods from a 100-year flood plain.
When completed, Downtown Links will include a Union Pacific Railroad underpass on 6th Street, which will eliminate one of the most hazardous railroad crossings in the state. A pair of new bicycle overpasses will improve the safety for bicyclists entering downtown. The Downtown Links project consists of three phases:
- Construction of Phase 1 (8th Street Drainage) was completed in 2012.
- Construction of Phase 2 (St. Mary’s Road) was completed in 2014.
- Construction of Phase 3 (Church Avenue to Broadway) will begin in early 2018, with completion in 2020.
The Downtown Links project is part of the long-range Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) plan, approved by Pima County voters in May 2006. The project will allow traffic on Broadway and Barraza-Aviation Parkway to have alternate paths to Interstate 10 without going through the congestion of the downtown area.
All projects in the $2.1 billion RTA plan are funded by a voter-approved half-cent transportation sales tax. The RTA has dedicated $76 million to the Downtown Links project from its 20-year plan. Construction of the Downtown Links project is managed by the City of Tucson.
Other project improvements include:
- Medians and turn lanes
- Major drainage improvements: Tucson Arroyo culvert expansion
- Four rail crossing upgrades to establish Quiet Zone eligibility (Main, 5th St, 9th Ave and 7th Ave)
- Maclovio Barraza Parkway bridge over 6th Avenue
- Public space and art (6+ artists selected for this project)
- Native desert landscaping and passive water harvesting
The Downtown Links Phase 2 project was a recipient of 2015 Local and State American Public Works Association Project of the Year.
Nov. 1, 2017 - It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a HAWK! The Regional Transportation Authority, in fact, has funded 56 signalized HAWK pedestrian crossings in the City of Tucson. The HAWK (High visibility Activated crossWalK) is a pedestrian-activated beacon located on mast arms, over the major approaches to an intersection. The safety feature was created in Tucson.
The HAWK head consists of two red lenses over a single yellow lens. When activated, the lights cycle from an amber warning flash, to solid amber and then to a solid red light that signals traffic to stop. This stop of traffic flow allows pedestrians to safely cross major streets. The light then transitions to a flashing red phase, which requires vehicles to stop and then proceed once pedestrians have crossed.
Previous research found driver yielding percentages above 95 percent at HAWKs even on major streets with multiple lanes or higher speeds.
A Federal Highway Administration- sponsored a study, published in 2010, to determine the safety benefits of the HAWK found:
- A 29 percent reduction in total crashes
- A 69 percent reduction in pedestrian crashes
- A 15 percent reduction in severe crashes
This study can be viewed at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/10042/10042.pdf.
In the meantime, the following HAWKs have recently “landed” in the Pima County region:
- Ft. Lowell Park at Craycroft Road
- Grant Road and Sahuara Avenue
- Nogales Highway and Alvord Road
- Mary Ann Cleveland Drive and Kush Canyon Lane
- Euclid Avenue and 5th Street
And “hatching” soon is a new pedestrian signal on Oracle Road at Las Lomitas Drive. To view how a HAWK works, please watch the following video:
Oct. 26, 2017 - One of the newest Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) roadway projects to come online is a seven-mile section of Wilmot Road. Formerly a dirt road, this stretch is now a two-lane paved roadway, creating a new regional corridor, from Sahuarita Road to Interstate 10, between Old Nogales Highway and Houghton Road.
The $10.4 million construction project, funded by the RTA ($9.8M) and Pima County, was managed by Pima County and completed in June 2017. The improved corridor serving the southeast metropolitan area of Tucson, provides more convenient access to thousands of commuters living between Corona de Tucson and the Town of Sahuarita.
Oct. 17, 2017 - When the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) plan was approved by voters in 2006, it included a promise to deliver 200 new bus pullouts. As of the summer of 2017, more than half of them have been completed.
The RTA plan allocated $30 million to fund bus pullouts over the life of the 20-year regional transportation plan. The added bus pullouts allow passengers to board transit vehicles outside of the traffic through lane.
Designated, paved pullouts are built to the right of through lanes and next to the curb. Traffic can continue to flow in the through lane, and drivers do not need to resort to lane changes to avoid traffic delays behind stopped buses.
This is particularly important at busy intersections, where the capacity of the intersection is greatly impacted by bus operations. Bus pullouts also provide benefits to transit riders since most new bus pullouts are constructed with shelters and other amenities to improve transit rider comfort.
The RTA established criteria, in cooperation with the City of Tucson and Sun Tran, for transit corridor bus pullouts to be implemented by the RTA. All pullouts are standardized to accommodate the full-size, 40-foot buses within the Sun Tran fleet. Design of pullouts for future 60-foot articulated buses and/or multiple buses is also considered along high-ridership corridors. Where feasible, bus pullouts are designed to allow not only vehicular traffic but also bicycle traffic to bypass stopped transit vehicles. Because of the heavy static loads which transit vehicles place on pavement, bus pullouts are paved with concrete rather than asphalt for greater service life and durability.
The size of the bus shelter varies based upon surrounding land uses and passenger use. Standard passenger amenities included in the pullout design include trash receptacles and security lighting. All bus pullouts are constructed to be fully accessible and conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act including handicap ramps at intersections, improved corridor access for the elderly and disabled, and new sidewalk connections where needed to provide for route continuity.
Bus pullouts have been constructed on major transit corridors, including Oracle Road, First Avenue, Country Club Road, Palo Verde Boulevard, Alvernon Way, Craycroft Road, Valencia Road, Ajo Way, Broadway Boulevard, 5th Street, Speedway Boulevard, and Fort Lowell Road. New pullouts also have been constructed in conjunction with new services in the outlying areas of the region, including express bus services serving Oro Valley and Rita Ranch as well as Sun Shuttle service to the Town of Marana. Completed RTA plan Roadway Element projects which have incorporated bus pullouts include the Speedway Boulevard project, the Twin Peaks Road project and La Cholla Boulevard project.
Oct. 11, 2017 - During the past 11 years, more new sidewalks, bike lanes and multi-use paths have been put in place all across the region. These projects are part of the 2006 voter-approved Regional Transportation Authority plan. The RTA and its member jurisdictions delivered these projects over the years.
The RTA promised to construct approximately 250 miles of sidewalks and 550 miles of bikeways over the life of the 20-year RTA plan. The RTA is well on its way to meeting this pledge, with over 149 miles of sidewalks and 271 miles of bike lanes completed to date.
The multimodal plan dedicated $60 million to fund bikeway, greenway, pathway and sidewalk improvements to support non-motorized forms of transportation and support the goal of the RTA plan to enhance our regional mobility options.
Since many existing roadways throughout the Tucson region do not have continuous sidewalks and bikeways, the RTA-funded projects have helped to fill gaps in the sidewalk and bikeways network. Shared-use paths, bike boulevards and bike lane improvements create a bicycle and pedestrian-friendly transportation system for all users.
Sidewalks are needed for a variety of groups, especially young children and people with disabilities who walk or use public transit for school and work. Bike boulevards provide the community a low stress alternative to biking on major streets, and bike lane facilities provide cyclists a safer environment for commuting on major roadways.
A well-connected, shared-use path network along the river park system adds to our region’s recreational and mobility options. Improvements funded through the RTA plan’s Environmental and Economic Vitality Element are creating an interconnected bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure network spanning the region.