Any mom or dad will tell you parenthood involves serious car time.
You’re crisscrossing to school, doctor’s appointments, practices, orthodontist visits, play dates. And, in my case, doing all these things involves sitting at the intersection of Tanque Verde and Sabino Canyon roads waiting.
No matter the time of day, it takes five or six light cycles to push through that choked-up intersection. So painful. Especially since you only reach that bottleneck after first punching through the tangled nightmare that is Kolb/Grant/Tanque Verde — which, aside from mind-numbing traffic, was noted in a 2011 city traffic analysis for having the worst air quality in town. Windows up, kids!
Had he ever driven that stretch, Dante surely would’ve added two more circles of hell to honor those intersections.
The Tanque Verde/Sabino Canyon junction in particular has been a pivotal point for our family. It’s the place where the kids learned not just George Carlin’s famous seven dirty words but a few bonus ones. It’s where they got to intimately know their hometown because their frazzled mom would take crazy, convoluted cut-throughs of nearby neighborhoods in an effort to avoid turning left. It’s the place where we’ve shared deep, philosophical discussions about life and love and the cosmos because we were stuck in the minivan for what seemed like hours.
Lest you think I’m exaggerating, there are stats to back me up.
A recent Pima Association of Governments traffic-count survey that charted turns in 15-minute increments showed that from 4-5:45 p.m. — peak kid carpooling time — typically about 200 cars tried to squeeze a left-turn from Tanque Verde Road onto Sabino Canyon Road. Highest number: 207 at 4:45 p.m., and yes, I can verify that was me, No. 207, stuck behind everyone else.
Congested? It’s worse than Cyrano de Bergerac during pollen season.
So, needless to say, ever since the news broke years ago about an alternative to the madness — an extension of Sabino Canyon Road south of Tanque Verde Road linking it to Kolb Road just north of Speedway — I’ve been anxiously waiting.
Construction was first scheduled to begin in 2009 but didn’t actually happen until December 2015.
But now, the $12.3 million project is done. It’s done! Mayor Jonathan Rothschild noted at the Jan. 5 ribbon-cutting ceremony that it’s the city’s first new roadway since Mary Ann Cleveland Way opened in 2005.
Ssshhh. Listen. Did you hear that? It’s the sound of the Regional Transportation Authority getting its wings.
I first crossed Airmen Memorial Bridge about an hour after it opened. It was glorious, so positively liberating that it felt like a non-suicidal “Thelma and Louise” moment gliding across that overpass.
As I coasted up to a red light at Sabino Canyon and Tanque Verde roads, just three cars idled ahead of me. Three.
Please, do me a solid, don’t tell anyone else that road is open.