We're closer to having a new, wider Tangerine Road that's less like a water slide and more like a parkway.

A preliminary study and design concept for the road project is wrapping up, said Alejandro Angel, vice president at Psomas Engineering in Tucson.

It will be built in two phases, with construction coming to the area east of Dove Mountain in 2015-16 and the west end coming later.

The project will widen the road and improve drainage between Interstate 10 and La Cañada Drive, Angel told a packed audience at a recent project open house.

"The first question is: Why do we even need to improve Tangerine Road?" he asked the crowd, which erupted in laughter.

For those not in on the joke, Angel displayed a photo of a car swept away by rushing monsoon waters.

"There are issues with the roadway getting flooded," he said, with 50 drainage crossings on this stretch of road.

Besides, the road resembles a river at certain times of the year. Traffic is close to capacity, and predictions are there will be more than twice as many drivers using Tangerine in 2040 as there are today.

The project will add one lane in each direction, but will include enough right-of-way area and long enough drainage structures to add a third lane in each direction in the future, Angel said.

When it's done, the newly widened part of Tangerine will look a lot like the part between First Avenue and Oracle Road, with 45 mph to 50 mph speed limits, no curbs, limited driveways, native plants and sidewalks.

The $74.2 million project will be paid for by the Regional Transportation Authority, Marana, Pima County and Oro Valley.

An additional $3 million to $4 million will be spent on drainage structures that double as wildlife crossings for deer, javelinas and other wildlife.

There will be a 60-foot bridge about 2 1/2 miles east of I-10 and a 100-foot bridge about three quarters of a mile west of Dove Mountain where there's currently a big dip in the road where Prospect Wash collects runoff from the Tortolita Mountains.


• The Irvington Road-Houghton Road intersection will be closed overnight tonight and Tuesday. Nighttime work on Houghton will continue for two weeks between Irvington and Valencia roads.

• Streetcar construction crews will install overhead wires this week on Fourth Avenue and on Second Street. Watch for officers directing traffic.

• Today is International Bus Driver Appreciation Day. Download a thank-you card at SunTran.com, or just give a friendly wave.

• Kidical Mass is 10 a.m. Saturday at Catalina Park, 900 N. Fourth Ave.

Families can cruise on bicycles down the Fourth Avenue/Fontana Bicycle Boulevard with the Living Streets Alliance.

• AAA Arizona is offering a free Permit Prep 101 workshop for teens getting ready for their driver's permit at 2 p.m. March 30 at the Northwest YMCA, 7770 N. Shannon Road.

Register by emailing vvinyard@arizona.aaa.com and include your name, the teen's name, a phone number and an email address.


Al Schaick wonders what's going on with the construction on Houghton Road between Irvington and Valencia roads.

"In the past weeks, all sorts of equipment has been digging up the road and then grading it," he writes. "The next week they are digging it up again."

A: There's a lot going on in this construction zone, explains city project manager M.J. Dillard.

Crews dug a slot for a new water line and had to temporarily rebury it while waiting for parts, and traffic is moved to different lanes during culvert work, she said.

"We have had to redo the temporary road several times as the asphalt wasn't holding up very well," Dillard said.

"Additionally," she said, "we are gradually raising the elevation of the roadway in various locations, and we do this in phases so we can continue to get traffic through the area without large dropoffs."

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.