Those who are weary of traffic grinding to a halt in downtown Tucson because of the modern-streetcar construction should consider counting the orange traffic cones while idling between intersections.
The slow removal of the plastic cones and other temporary traffic-control devices might be the best barometer of how construction along the 3.9-mile path of the new transit route is progressing.
Joe Chase, the city project manager in charge of the entire streetcar system, says he is removing them as quickly as he can, pulling them off city streets as soon as construction allows.
"As fast as I can pull them, they are coming off the streets," he said.
For those hoping for some good news on the project, Chase said he is excited to say construction is nearly done. Some highlights:
• Installations of the rail lines are complete.
• Installations of the underground utilities are 98 percent complete.
• Overhead contacts powering the streetcar are about 85 percent complete.
• Congress Street, Broadway and Granada Avenue need a final layer of asphalt to be laid down, although crews will need to install new manhole covers and utility access before they reopen to traffic.
• Crews will be working at night to repave the three streets in an attempt to minimize traffic disruptions.
• Intersections currently controlled by uniformed police officers or four-way stop signs will be controlled by traffic signals by the end of the month.
Barring any unforeseen complications, construction related to the modern-streetcar project in downtown Tucson should be complete by late September or early October.
The next step will be testing the tracks with the streetcar itself, which is expected to be delivered later this month.
Sorry, no rides will be offered, unless you have a spare Tucson Department of Transportation uniform in your closet.
DOWN THE ROAD
• Construction crews for the Arizona Department of Transportation will be working on Arizona 85 near Ajo; drivers should expect some delays as crews remove old asphalt and utility work before repaving portions of the state-controlled highway.
• Expect delays on a 14-mile stretch of Interstate 10 east of Benson as ADOT construction crews temporarily close some exits and restrict traffic for routine maintenance.
• Crews working for the city of Tucson's Department of Transportation will briefly close a number of roads along Houghton Road this week, as part of a Regional Transportation Authority construction project. Civano Road at Houghton will remain closed for about two months to allow crews to install large drainage pipes and trenches.
Dale López writes:
Question: "Why is there a traffic light at Aviation Parkway and 22nd Street? Traffic only travels in opposite directions here. There is no cross traffic at this "intersection." Cars can make a left turn onto 22nd from Aviation, but they don't need a light to do this, do they?"
Answer: "The traffic signal is to allow a 'protected' left-turn lane from State Route 210, also known as Barraza-Aviation Parkway, onto 22nd Street. Without the signal, drivers attempting to turn left may have difficulty finding large enough gaps during the peak hours," said Dustin Krugel, a public information officer with the Arizona Department of Transportation.