Plans for changing Broadway from Euclid Avenue to Country Club Road were developed in 1987. They were designed for a very different growth pattern than has evolved in the intervening 26 years, but were included without significant change as Project 17 in the 2006 Regional Transportation bond election.
Those plans call for widening the road to a 150-foot right of way, thus destroying more than 100 businesses and historic buildings, and threatening historic neighborhoods.
The Broadway Coalition is a growing organization that has the support of at least 19 neighborhoods from throughout the city, more than 50 businesses, and hundreds of individuals, wanting Broadway to retain a sense of place and remain a destination.
To create an end product that our coalition could support, the Broadway Project should:
• Advance the notion of place (quite different from the notion of corridor), including offering residents a range of services and amenities, and retain its unique identity.
• Preserve existing structures along Broadway and provide safe, easy access to them.
• Enhance the business climate and viability.
• Promote use of alternative modes of transportation and give particular attention to pedestrian and bicycle activity and safety.
• Be visually appealing.
• Aid the efficient movement of a people using a variety of forms of vehicular traffic.
• Contribute to environmental sustainability.
• Be a fiscally sound, affordable approach.
I have lived in Tucson for more than 45 years, during which the citizens of this community have repeatedly defeated ballot measures that involved freeways, which would have divided the urban core of the city because of the urban blight they would cause around them. We would not like this arterial improvement project to have those effects on Broadway.
Tucson should learn from the innovations other cities have used when dealing with similar problems. We commend the Tucson mayor and City Council's motion of Sept. 19, which states that the Environmental Protection Agency performance measures for transportation decision-making should be used by the Broadway Project Citizens' Task Force, which is helping to design the street project.
The coalition is encouraged by the public's attention to this issue, as shown by large attendance at the task force's public hearings in June last year and in January; there was a clear message that an enhanced sense of place was desirable. The coalition also appreciates the statements of task force members that they too want Broadway to remain a destination.
This is both a challenge and an opportunity for the city of Tucson to become recognized as a city where creativity thrives, to be a leader in creating a sense of place, reaffirming the unique character of the Old Pueblo.
Broadway is not just a corridor to somewhere else; it is a destination worthy of our fine city. This part of Broadway is comprised of and surrounded by historic buildings and neighborhoods, including more than 500 businesses. It is a vital part of Tucson.
The coalition has a vision in which an enhanced Broadway community becomes a model for the country of how a street improvement project can help create a new pathway for urban sustainability and renewal, while moving people efficiently and effectively.
At the next task force open house, which is tentatively scheduled Sept. 5, the two or three semifinal design options being considered will be available for public comment.
This will be an important opportunity for citizens to make their voices heard on how we want our Broadway to look and feel.
The next Broadway Citizens Task Force meeting, which is open to the public, will be 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Child & Family Resources, 2800 E. Broadway. Its website is at cms3.tucsonaz.gov/broadway
J.D. Garcia is professor emeritus of physics at the University of Arizona and a member of the Steering Committee for the Broadway Coalition. Email: email@example.com