It would be easy to miss while traveling at highway speeds, but on Monday the Arizona Department of Transportation quietly reopened the eastbound Interstate 10 off-ramp at West Prince Road.
The westbound ramp is expected to open toward the end of this year.
A half-finished bridge going over what will some day become eight lanes of I-10 at Prince road is easily the most memorable aspect of the current construction project.
But as work progresses, ADOT officials say they have reached a milestone in their effort to build 6 1/2 miles of continuous four-lane highway in each direction along the busiest traffic corridor in Tucson. Two-thirds of the $76.4 million project is now complete. When finished later this year, it will increase capacity, reduce congestion and improve traffic flow.
ADOT has also reopened the eastbound frontage road between Commerce Drive and Prince Road, bringing in much-needed traffic to area businesses.
Alicia Anderson, the area manager for the Mattress Firm store on the frontage road between Ruthrauff and Prince Roads, is optimistic sales will improve now that the Prince Road exit is open.
The store, which used to house Aufmuth Motors, opened its doors after the Prince Road work broke ground in September 2011.
"We have never been open without construction," she said. "We are thrilled to find out what the impact will be without the construction. It can only be positive."
During the frontage-road closure, traffic was detoured at Commerce Drive to Fort Lowell Road and back onto the eastbound frontage road north of Miracle Mile.
The ramp reopening will also provide a little easier access for some drivers to the Arizona Department of Environment Quality auto emissions testing facility, next door to the Mattress Firm.
Once work along the two-mile section of highway is complete later this year, the Prince Road traffic interchange will pass over both the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and I-10.
Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4346.