Construction on the long-awaited Sabino Canyon Road extension to Kolb Road could start within a few months.

After growing tired of federal bureaucratic delays, the Regional Transportation Authority board decided to fully fund the project, taking the Federal Highway Administration out of the equation.

The last time Road Runner looked into this project was in March, when city and Arizona Department of Transportation officials said they were waiting for the go-ahead from the Federal Highway Administration, which planned to kick in $13 million to help pay for the project.

Total costs for the extension are estimated at $22 million.

Because the feds were helping pay the tab, the city and RTA had to follow federal rules. That included conducting a lengthy environmental assessment.

Part of that process involved getting the assessment reviewed by the Arizona Department of Transportation before sending it off for federal approval.

But the process didn’t end there.

After the feds signed off, the city would then have to call a public hearing where residents can speak their minds about the project. Those comments would then be forwarded for Federal Highway Administration consideration before the agency would finally release the $13 million they planned to contribute to the project.

The Sabino Canyon connection was first scheduled to begin in 2009 but neighborhood concerns and federal requirements have held it up.

The final plan will consist of two bridges south of the extension between Udall Park and a neighborhood to the west.

The northern bridge will cross an area that once was a landfill. The second will cross the Pantano Wash north of Speedway and empty onto Kolb Road.

The extension will provide a quicker pass through for northbound and southbound motorists who currently have to divert to the intersection at Tanque Verde and Grant roads.

The project is expected to begin in the fall and take about a year to complete.

But just because city and RTA officials decided to boot the feds from the Sabino Canyon and Kolb project doesn’t mean they’ll forgo that $13 million.

Instead, the RTA swapped funding with the Ajo Way and Interstate 19 interchange project.

An environmental assessment has already been completed for that project, so the federal requirements have been met.

City officials still intend to hold the Sabino Canyon extension project public meeting on June 24 at 6 p.m. at St. Pius X Catholic Church at 1800 N. Camino Pio Decimo.

Down the road

The Tucson Department of Transportation plans an open house meeting on the upcoming Downtown Links project.

The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Hotel Tucson City Center, 475 N. Granada Ave.

The Downtown Links will provide improved access for commuters, linking Barraza-Aviation Parkway and I-10, and downtown with the neighborhoods to the north.

Another open house is planned for Monday to discuss the Silverbell widening project.

The meeting will be at the El Rio Neighborhood Center at 1390 W. Speedway from 6 to 7 p.m.

The planned roadway improvements include widening Silverbell Road between Goret Road and Grant Road to a four-lane divided roadway. Resurfacing work on Silverbell between Goret and Ina roads is also planned for this summer.

Information on the project can be found at