This rendering shows the proposed new interchange project, which will close Ina Road at Interstate 10 for two years.

Courtesy ADOT

Mark your calendars, loyal readers: Ina Road at Interstate 10 will shut down Feb. 15 and be closed to traffic for roughly two years.

The lengthy closure is intended to accommodate the massive, $148 million reworking of the interchange, which, when complete, will take Ina over the interstate and Union Pacific railroad tracks.

I-10 will also be widened to eventually accommodate four lanes in each direction, frontage roads and ramps will be reconstructed, Ina will be expanded to two lanes in both directions west of the interstate, and its bridges over the Santa Cruz will be rebuilt, according to information from the Arizona Department of Transportation, which is managing the project.

ADOT has undertaken similar projects at Miracle Mile and Prince Road, and intends to start design work on another raised roadway at Ruthrauff Road when the Ina interchange is complete, according to an ADOT official.

A joint venture between contractors Sundt and Kiewit put in the winning bid of $108 million for the remaining work, which was approved by the Arizona State Transportation Board at its Dec. 16 meeting. It was about $4.8 million over state estimates, according to meeting materials.

The project will be paid for by the Regional Transportation Authority, as well as a $25 million contribution from Marana.

“There’s going to be a lot of safety features, a lot more traffic flow, a lot of opportunities for expansion in the area because of that capacity,” said ADOT’s district engineer Rod Lane. “It’s really going to have a tremendous impact on that local community.”

Beyond improved capacity and traffic flow, Lane said the principal benefit of the project is improved safety, adding: “It’s always been a dangerous spot when you have that type of intersection,” in reference to Ina’s crossing of the heavily used train tracks.

But over the next two years, the impacts will mostly be disruptive. Lane said he appreciates that, but said his agency and other local jurisdictions are taking steps to ease the inconvenience.

For one, while no vehicles will be able to take Ina to the other side of the interstate, the western frontage road will remain open, and drivers will be able to access the interstate further south. Getting across the interstate, however, will mean heading north to Cortaro Farms Road or south to Orange Grove Road. Those intersections should also be the principal access points for drivers who currently enter or exit I-10 at Ina, according to ADOT recommendations.

Anticipating heavier traffic at those sites, ADOT has worked with Pima County to allow for signal timing changes as driving patterns shift.

“We understand that this is going to be a challenge for people. Please keep patience, keep your eyes on the prize,” Lane said, adding later: “We will do everything that we can to ease any burden that we can for the traveling public.”

Another project that will provide alternatives to drivers during the Ina closure is the Sunset Road bridge, the contractor on which has to finish its work by the end of April.

Pima County Department of Transportation project manager Jason Bahe said, however, that contractor Borderland Construction is “working hard to try and get done before that date.”

The company has already poured half the bridge deck and will pour the second before the end of December. Asphalt work on Sunset and Silverbell Road is also proceeding according to schedule.

“Well, I would like for them to finish before Feb. 15, but I’m not betting any money on it,” he added. “My hope is that they will, but weather can play a part in all of that.”

For more information on the Ina interchange project and its traffic impacts, go to azdot.gov/inaTI

You can also call ADOT’s project line at 1-855-712-8530.

DOWN THE ROAD

There will be overnight travel restrictions on Interstate 10 and Ajo Way where they cross at Kino Parkway starting Wednesday evening to accommodate work on the parkway bridge. Alternating lane closures will be in effect from 9 p.m. Wednesday through 5 a.m. Thursday.

Contact: mwoodhouse@tucson.com or 573-4235. On Twitter: @murphywoodhouse

Pima County reporter and Road Runner columnist for the Arizona Daily Star