The city’s recent acquisition of Lerua’s Fine Mexican Food, one of the final parcels of land needed for the Broadway widening, means the project can move forward this spring.
The restaurant, open since 1922, is unofficially open until this Saturday, and by this spring all of the nearby buildings affected by the widening will be vacant and ready for demolition.
All the acquisitions needed to move forward with widening Broadway from Euclid Avenue to Country Club Road have now been fulfilled, ending a years-long process to obtain the land, Tucson Transportation Department officials said.
Several businesses along the corridor were allowed to move to their former locations on monthly leases so operations would not interfere with construction. Those moves should be completed by the end of spring.
Once construction is done, which is expected in 2021, those private tenants could move back into their buildings.
Now officials will move forward with opening the project for construction bids, but an exact date has yet to be set. The chosen contractor will then provide TDOT with a plan for construction that will determine how the roadways will be adjusted to make room for safe construction.
The project will expand the two-mile stretch of Broadway, known as the Sunshine Mile, to six lanes. It will include medians, bike lanes, sidewalks and bus pullouts. A total of $71 million has been allocated to the project.
Transportation officials highlighted some of the work the public may see in 2019.
“The construction work that the public can likely anticipate seeing accomplished ... is underground work within the roadway prism, especially on the water and sewer utilities,” a TDOT statement said.
“After that, it is possible they see the start of the installation of the storm drain system and some early widening efforts.”
While motorists have time to prepare before construction begins, many Broadway businesses are preparing now to continue operations throughout the project.
The MainStreet Business Assistance Program, which is funded by the Regional Transportation Authority, is helping the businesses understand how they can prepare for the upcoming construction.
Britton Dornquast, the program’s manager, and a team of consultants are helping businesses free of charge. They’re not only keeping owners up to date about the project, but providing tips that have worked on previous projects.
“Businesses are trying to get the best information they can at any given point in time to make the best decisions they can about their business. That’s what we try to provide, knowing full well that sometimes it changes, especially during construction,” Dornquast said.
Most of the affected businesses have not experienced a major road project like the Broadway widening.
There will be increased signage in the area to notify the public that a business is open.
When construction begins, businesses are allowed an extra A-frame sign without a permit, which is usually required. At the end of construction, the signs come down unless owners get a permit for continued use, Dornquast said.
Dornquast said that businesses will be open and ready to offer their services to the community.
“That business corridor, that Sunshine Mile, has been here for decades and decades, long before I was born. It is a part of Tucson and there are amazing businesses, incredible places to shop and eat and get services and do all this stuff in the corridor.” Dornquast said.
Down the Road
Arizona Department of Transportation crews have closed three Interstate 10 ramps for the widening project in Casa Grande.
Crews have closed the eastbound Interstate 8 to westbound I-10 ramp, eastbound I-10 on-ramp at Jimmie Kerr Boulevard and the westbound off-ramp at Jimmie Kerr Boulevard.
ADOT crews are widening I-10 to six lanes between Earley Road and I-8. The project is expected to be completed this summer.
Motorists on eastbound I-8 should take westbound I-10 to Exit 200 at Sunland Gin Road, exit and enter eastbound I-10 at Sunland Gin Road.
Drivers wanting to enter eastbound I-10 at Jimmie Kerr Boulevard should follow Jimmie Kerr south to Sunland Gin Road, then go west to reach I-10, officials said.
Westbound I-10 drivers can exit at Sunland Gin Road and go north to Jimmie Kerr Boulevard, re-enter I-10 eastbound and exit at Jimmie Kerr Boulevard.