Road runner: Second phase of downtown bypass begins

2012-12-03T00:00:00Z Road runner: Second phase of downtown bypass beginsBecky Pallack Becky Pallack Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

As if there weren't enough construction going on downtown, here comes another major road project.

Work is beginning on Phase 2 of Downtown Links, connecting the Barraza-Aviation Parkway to Interstate 10 as a downtown bypass route.

The new route is already 40 years in the making.

To make that long story short, the original alignment of the route was rejected by the community because it would have sacrificed the historical warehouse district.

Voters approved money for a new project with the Regional Transportation Authority plan in 2006; the City Council approved a new alignment in 2008; and Phase 1 of the project was completed earlier this year.

"It hasn't been easy, but we're making serious progress on this 1.3-mile corridor," city project manager Tom Fisher said at a groundbreaking event last week.

Phase 2 rebuilds St. Mary's Road-Sixth Street in the downtown area between Interstate 10 and Church Avenue. The project will improve drainage and lighting, and add bike lanes, sidewalks, a bus pullout and a new crossing for bicyclists and pedestrians near Davis Elementary School and Oury Park, Fisher said.

There'll also be a space-age public art piece that will let you shoot lasers at "A" Mountain. You can see a YouTube video of the artwork on StarNet.

Construction for Phase 2 is expected to be done in about a year and will cost about $7.3 million.

Drivers can expect lane closures, which will cause congestion during rush hours. Use Speedway as an alternative.

For the next few weeks, traffic will stay on the south side of the street.

City project manager Joe Chase said he's working on special considerations for gem show traffic next month.

Down the road, one block of St. Mary's will be closed for a month in the spring for utility work.

Future Phases 3 and 4 of the Downtown Links project, now in design, will create a new street, Links Avenue, on the north side of the railroad tracks between Broadway and Sixth/St. Mary's.

SOUTHEAST SIDE OR BUST

Sun Shuttle is launching a new bus route, and rides are free today.

The new Route 450 serves southeast Tucson from 4:50 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Regular bus fare will be $1.50, or 50 cents for discount fares.

You can take this bus to the Tech Park, Rita Ranch, Sierra Morado, Civano, Fantasy Island, Pima Community College East, Santa Rita High School and Sun Tran Park & Ride lots on Old Vail and Golf Links roads, according to a Sun Tran press release.

Riders can transfer for free to a number of Sun Tran bus routes along the way. To learn more about the new route, you can attend a kickoff event at 9:15 a.m. today at the Clements Center, 8155 E. Poinciana Drive; or go online to suntran.com/sunshuttle; or call 792-9222.

PROPosition 409 OVERSIGHT

You can apply to be part of the Citizen Bond Oversight Commission for the voter-approved Proposition 409 road repair money.

The 11 commissioners will meet quarterly to review progress and help make sure the $100 million is spent as promised by the city.

To apply, email your résumé to cityclerk@tucsonaz.gov by Dec. 31.

TUCSON-PHOENIX RAIL SURVEY

The Arizona Department of Transportation still wants your opinion about a passenger train between Tucson and Phoenix, but the deadline is Dec. 15.

You can fill out an online survey at azdot.gov/passengerrail to give your opinion.

The survey is part of ADOT's $6.3 million Passenger Rail Corridor Study, which will be done next year.

ROAD Q

"What's the latest update on when the RTA will begin construction work on the extension of Sabino Canyon Road south of Tanque Verde Road to Kolb?" Dave Tedlock asks.

A: Construction isn't coming until 2014, but watch for a public hearing in the spring to get details about the project, said Dave Joseph, Regional Transportation Authority spokesman.

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.

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

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