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Photos: Tucson Controlled Access Highway in 1954

Photos: Tucson Controlled Access Highway in 1954

In 1954, the Tucson Citizen published a tongue-in-cheek series about the new Tucson Controlled Access Highway, which they contended was misnamed as a "freeway" because of several controlled intersections on the route. A photographer photographed his empty Willy's Jeep a various points on the route. An artist drew-in a character in the driver's seat that they called "Citizen Charlie."

In 1948, the Arizona State Highway Department approved the Tucson Controlled Access Highway, a bypass around downtown Tucson. It was named State Route 84A, and connected Benson Highway (US 80) with the Casa Grande Highway (SR 84). There were several spots where vehicles had to either stop or slow for crossing traffic: At Orphanage Road (now 12th Ave.), at Congress Street, at St. Mary's Road, at Grant Road and at US 80 (via Miracle Mile). By 1961, it was reconstructed as Interstate 10 and the intersections were eliminated by overpasses.

It was dangerous in 1954 to stop on a state highway and take pictures. That act could be downright fatal on what is now Interstate 10. The bigger question: Where's that vintage Willy's Jeep now?

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