The city will reopen the northbound frontage road along Interstate 10 between 22nd Street and Broadway as well as the nearby intersection of Granada Avenue and Cushing Street sometime this week, possibly as soon as the end of today.
The frontage road will give some commuters a new route into downtown, allowing them to avoid traffic delays caused by the continued construction of the tracks for the modern streetcar, mainly along Broadway.
They're going to need the added access, as the city will also be closing a portion of the Congress Street and Granada Avenue intersection this week in order to install the last section of curved rail for the project. The street will be closed to southbound traffic for the next four weeks, although northbound traffic on Granada will be allowed to turn onto Broadway.
Joe Chase, a construction manager for the city, said the city is on track to be largely finished with major construction by July.
"By the time we hit July, we should have all the rail in downtown, all the base paving downtown," he said.
When the tracks will actually have streetcars on them, however, remains an open question. Delivery of the first car, for testing only, has been pushed back to August - 10 months behind the original due date - and officials are dubious even about August.
But once they are running, Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and Regional Transportation Authority officials assure us the streetcar will be the economic salvation of downtown.
But Salon Magazine isn't so sure. Its website reprinted a column from Onearth.org editor Jeff Turrentine last week suggesting the success found in Charlotte, N.C., may not necessarily be replicable elsewhere.
"Streetcars can't transform the cultural character of a city, or single-handedly pull one out of a national recession," wrote Turrentine.
The East Coast city met its ridership goals when it opened its streetcar line in a matter of weeks, after initial estimates suggested it would take months to catch on.
The article came out only a week after the San Francisco Chronicle wrote about how wonderful it is to visit Tucson - focusing several articles on how to spend time on Fourth Avenue.
DOWN THE ROAD
• Expect nighttime delays along Speedway between Mountain and First avenues as the Pima County Wastewater Department has private contractors upgrading sewer lines. Construction will result in lane restrictions on Speedway beginning each night at 8 p.m., with work expected to be complete by the end of the month.
• Commuters using westbound Interstate 10 between Grant and Ruthrauff roads should expect some delays on Wednesday evening and in the early morning hours of Thursday. The Arizona Department of Transportation will have only one lane open on westbound I-10 and will close the exit ramp at Ruthrauff Road as crews erect barriers before shifting traffic onto the new westbound I-10. The new section of westbound I-10 is expected to be open to traffic on Thursday.
• ADOT will also begin overnight pavement work on I-10 between Marana and Cortaro roads this week, leading to overnight lane closures in both directions. Construction work will begin every night at 7 p.m.
• State Route 82 between Nogales and Patagonia will be narrowed to one lane for seven miles on Tuesday. The construction between mileposts 12 and 19 will allow crews to seal cracks along the roadway. Construction is expected to start at 6:30 a.m.; drivers should expect delays of up to 20 minutes.
• ADOT will close the northbound Canoa Ranch rest area on Interstate 19 for the next month starting Wednesday. The state agency will install a truck scale, widen the northbound exit ramp and place new pavement markings. The southbound rest area on I-19 will remain open.
• The Silverbell Road Project Team is inviting the public to weigh in on the final design of the section of Silverbell between Grant and Goret roads. The public meeting with be on Thursday at El Rio Neighborhood Center, at the corner of West Speedway and Riverview Boulevard. The 90-minute meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.
On StarNet: View a timeline of Tucson's modern streetcar project at azstarnet.com/streetcar
Question: "The bus stop at 22nd and Columbus (westbound) is downright filthy and not habitable. How many others are in the same shape?" writes Gerald Ledingham.
A: "It depends on the location and volume of passengers. Trash is collected anywhere from one time per week to five times per week. The city has a database from our contractor, which we review if a particular stop is experiencing problems. Powerwashing will be done at least once per month or as needed," said Michael Graham, a spokesman for the city.
Send your Road Q questions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or to 4850 S. Park Ave., Tucson, AZ 85714. Please include first and last names.