Broadway to open temporarily; info on buried utilities was bad

2012-08-23T00:00:00Z 2012-08-23T11:38:20Z Broadway to open temporarily; info on buried utilities was badDarren DaRonco Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 23, 2012 12:00 am  • 

After nearly three weeks of a disruptive shutdown of Broadway through downtown for streetcar construction, the boulevard is reopening today.

But drivers shouldn't interpret that to mean the inconvenience is over. This is just a reprieve. In a few weeks - city officials aren't sure how many - the barricades will be back up.

It turns out the city's schematics for where underground utilities were located were wrong, which means none of what was designed for the new sewer and water lines fits.

So now the city is filling the hole back in, repaving and heading back to the drawing board to re-design the whole thing.

Streetcar project manager Jesse Gutierrez said that when workers dug the hole, they realized there were too many conflicts with other utility lines for them to maneuver the new pipes around.

"When we got down there, we started finding real old stuff, stuff that wasn't marked or identified on any kind of as-built plan," Gutierrez said. "Basically, private utilities in the past have gone and put in their own ductwork, electric lines and communication lines … and there was no really clear path to go through."

Crews have encountered similar problems throughout the streetcar line but have been able to work around them.

Gutierrez said the way the utility lines were positioned under the stretch of road on Broadway between Church and Stone avenues was the worst section they've seen so far and requires a new approach.

As for why the city's designs were so far off, he said it's because the city didn't start keeping detailed records of where new utility lines went in until about 15 years ago.

And the records the city did keep were often vague and irrelevant.

"We do have information from 30 or 40 years ago, but it says things like the line was placed 10 feet from the curb. Well, that curb has been replaced five times since then," he said. "Yes there is information, but the way we tracked it in the past was not as detailed as we have now. … We have a great system now, but we have to work through what was put in many, many years ago."

Since the city has to realign and regrade both the water and sewer lines, obtain the proper permits and run the plans past Tucson Water and Pima County Wastewater Management before proceeding, Gutierrez expects the redesign to take several weeks to complete.

And that's too long to keep Broadway closed, he said.

"Rather than have the road closed with us just sitting there twiddling our thumbs," Gutierrez said, "we are going to open the road to traffic, minimize the impact to pedestrians and vehicles, and regroup and come back with a better plan."

Once the new plans are in place, the road will be dug up again as they start all over.

Gutierrez said when work resumes, the city hopes to perform the job without shutting Broadway completely down and rerouting traffic.

"Considering everything we did find, it might be very difficult to do it without a full closure, but we are going to try," he said.

Gutierrez said he doesn't know how much the problem will cost to fix, but he said it will be a nominal amount, and the delay won't affect the completion of the streetcar line.

The city planned to repave the road Wednesday, but its efforts were thwarted by rain. Gutierrez said crews will be out early this morning paving the road, and it should be open later in the day.

On StarNet: To read more about local and state government and political news, go to azstarnet.com/news/local/govt-and-politics

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or ddaronco@azstarnet.com.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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