Road runner: The wait for fix at Valencia-Kolb gets longer

2013-04-29T00:00:00Z Road runner: The wait for fix at Valencia-Kolb gets longerBecky Pallack Becky Pallack Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

If you've been waiting for a solution to the problem of waiting in traffic at the Valencia-Kolb roads intersection, just keep waiting.

Everybody knows the intersection needs to be fixed, but no one can agree on how, and politics are at play.

After years of work, Pima County gave up on the project last year after landowner Michael Farley organized a political campaign against the county because the project wasn't going his way.

The Regional Transportation Authority picked up the project and came up with a temporary solution, but the RTA board postponed the project last week on a request from Farley, who is in a dispute with the county over how the road would affect his property.

The Valencia-Kolb intersection is a finalist for the Most Congested Intersection in Greater Tucson prize.

The average evening rush-hour delay is more than one minute (meaning many drivers are waiting longer than that).

Many frustrated drivers are making risky moves to get through the light, Cole Quilliam told the RTA board last week. He co-chairs the neighborhood advisory committee for the project and manages a property near the intersection.

"There's a real need for an upgrade at this intersection," he said. "The sooner the better."

The committee and the RTA staff want to move ahead quickly with a $6.4 million interim project to create indirect left turns, similar to the RTA plans for the Grant-Oracle and Ina-Oracle intersections.

Eastbound drivers would drive through the intersection, past the gas stations and make a left turn at a green light onto a new ramp that would let them merge onto northbound Kolb, said Jim DeGrood, RTA transportation services director.

This project would cut the average evening rush hour delay down to 27 seconds, he said, and building a ramp won't mess up traffic on the existing roads.

The full widening would come years later, when the RTA widens Valencia between Kolb and Houghton, he said.

The RTA board will reconsider the ramp project sometime later this year.

DOWN THE ROAD

• Concrete girders will be installed for two new bridges over the Cañada del Oro Wash at La Cholla Boulevard, starting today and taking about a week.

Each girder is about 99 feet long and weighs 42 tons, according to a Pima County press release.

They're coming to Tucson from Phoenix on big trucks, which have to make a tricky and slow turn at La Cholla and Tangerine Road. Avoid that intersection.

• Watch for paving work this week on Cortaro Farms/Magee Road between Mona Lisa and Thornydale roads. Expect delays and detours.

• Broadway will get repaved between Wilmot and Pantano roads, starting Tuesday and wrapping up in late June. Two lanes in each direction will be open during the work, but expect delays.

ROAD Q

New striping at the Thornydale-Orange Grove intersection is confusing to Joel Lohr.

The dual right-turn lanes should let southbound drivers turn west into the nearest two lanes, but the new stripes let them turn into the outer two lanes, he writes.

It's even more confusing when you add northbound drivers turning west into those same lanes, he says.

A: The new stripes are there to guide right-turners into the westbound lanes, said Marana Traffic Engineering Manager Fernando Prol.

Drivers in the turn lane closest to the curb may turn into the nearest lane or the middle lane. Drivers in the second turn lane must turn into the farthest westbound lane.

Drivers who want to turn right during the red light must yield to drivers turning left with a green arrow, Prol said.

"We believe this is a safe operation and are monitoring the location," Prol said in an email.

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.

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