In the future, Lerua’s Fine Mexican Foods could have three drive-thru lanes. Not for food service. Just three lanes of traffic driving through what is now the dining room.
Or picture Madaras Gallery on East Broadway as a future bus stop — no word on whether it would be one of the “artistic” bus stops like the ones the city touts downtown.
And if things go as planned, the nearby El Rio Health Center clinic could have a sidewalk running through it.
Those are a few of the revelations in city staff’s recommended alignment for the expansion of Broadway between Country Club Road and Euclid Avenue. The report was made public Friday.
Altogether the roadway alignment goes through 37 buildings — fewer than an earlier version of the plan — in a project to widen Broadway from four lanes to six.
Two years of planning and public meetings led to these recommendations for the tricky project, which includes downtown’s east gate, historic buildings and an elementary school, to name a few of the challenges.
City Councilman Steve Kozachik said he’s concerned the project is unnecessarily overbuilding the street for rush hour traffic at the expense of demolishing buildings, hurting the tax base and wrecking midtown Tucson’s sense of place.
That said, he wants to see closure on the planning phase of the project, so business and property owners can make decisions and invest in the corridor.
Not everyone’s going to be happy, said city project manager Jenn Toothaker, but the decisions have been made by an active community that worked to understand the trade-offs of expansion and preservation.
Voters approved the project as part of the Regional Transportation Authority plan.
The City Council is expected to vote on the alignment plan in May, and city staff will have an estimate on the cost of property acquisitions by then, Toothaker said.
Kozachik said that estimate will be key, because the city can’t afford any cost overruns.
Once the council approves an alignment plan, the city can begin buying properties and relocating businesses, which could take up to two years. Then construction can begin, likely in 2017.