Speeding in a construction zone can really slow you down.

The long-awaited project to widen Houghton Road between Irvington and Valencia roads was never going to be fun for commuters. But the city has had to lower the speed limits because people were driving dangerously fast though the work zone.

Construction began in October, and we've got another 15 months or so coming.

City project manager M.J. Dillard was hoping not to restrict speed limits for the whole four-mile project, "but there were so many people making bad decisions" that she had to, she said.

She got reports of people looking at their phones, acting impatiently or even trying to pass on the shoulder, she said.

"Our goal is to get people through the project quickly, but we also need to get them through safely," Dillard said.

The original speed limit was 50 mph, and the work zone started out with 45 mph and 25 mph areas.

But they've been lowered to 35 mph and 25 mph.

Dillard said she sympathizes with frustrated drivers.

"Bear with us and be patient," she said. "When it's done, it will be three lanes in each direction."

There's a big change in the project tonight.

With a new water line going in on the west side, traffic will shift to the temporary paving on the east side of the road between Valencia and Drexel so crews can work on the west side of the road.

Some dedicated right-turn lanes also will be removed, and that could mean more backups. The lane removals are:

• Eastbound Irvington to southbound Houghton.

• Northbound Houghton to eastbound Irvington.

• Southbound Houghton to westbound Valencia.


• The downtown intersections of Congress Street at Stone Avenue and Congress at Church Avenue will be closed Saturday and stay closed for most of the month while streetcar construction crews install utilities, lay rails and repave the roads.

• Fourteenth Avenue will be closed south of Grant Road on Tuesday, and it will stay closed for about six weeks. Crews will build the turnaround area for the new indirect left-turns at the Grant and Oracle intersection.

• Tonight, traffic on eastbound Valencia Road at Wilmot Road will be shifted to the north side of the road while crews do soil tests. Expect minor delays.

• Watch for nighttime lane closures and ramp closures on Interstate 19 this week as Arizona Department of Transportation crews continue to replace signs.

• The city's crack-sealing and fog-sealing project moves to the downtown area this week.

Crews plan to fix up Drachman Street between Oracle Road and Stone Avenue, plus a bit of Oracle north of Drachman.

They'll also do Granada Avenue between Davis and Fifth streets and Speedway at Main Avenue.

• AAA Arizona is offering a new class for seniors who want to improve their driving skills and safety.

The next class is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 9 at the AAA office, 6950 N. Oracle Road.

The cost is $11.95 for AAA members and $15.95 for others. Participants may be eligible for an insurance discount.

To register, call Valerie Vinyard at 258-0518 or email her at vvinyard@arizona.aaa.com.

Road Q

Question: Jerry Peek asks: Why is the speed limit on Tucson Marketplace Boulevard only 15 mph near Walmart and Costco but higher as you get closer to Kino Parkway?

Answer: Most of the boulevard is a private street, and the developer chose to post a low speed limit, said Diahn Swartz, a city traffic engineer.

The city owns about 1,200 feet of the road west of Kino, she said, and the city doesn't post speed limits lower than 25 mph.

Send your Road Q questions by email to roadrunner@azstarnet.com or to 4850 S. Park Ave., Tucson, AZ 85714. Please include first and last names.