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Road Runner: Businesses gear up for disruptions related to Ruthrauff, I-10 interchange project
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Road Runner: Businesses gear up for disruptions related to Ruthrauff, I-10 interchange project

To stay or leave is a choice business owners near the Interstate 10, Ruthrauff Road interchange had to make, and there’s no turning back now.

Starting Monday, construction crews will be out in force to start the two-year, $129 million project, which will bring travel restrictions and closures along with it.

By January 2022 at the latest, motorists will find Interstate 10 widened to four lanes in each direction, the widening of Ruthrauff Road and El Camino del Cerro to two lanes in each direction and reconstruction of the I-10 frontage roads to connect to the elevated interchange.

It will reflect similar work done on the Ina and Prince Road interchange projects.

The Arizona Department of Transportation said the project will also reduce delays and improve vehicle safety in the area by carrying traffic over the freeway and Union Pacific Railroad tracks. Ruthrauff will be raised over the tracks, putting an end to motorists backing up onto the freeway.

“The biggest issue that we face currently is there’s a train, the traffic backs up onto the freeway, so that part is something that I know everybody is looking forward to, to make it a little easier to get across the freeway to come onto the east side of Ruthrauff,” said Kayla Welling, chief operating officer of Arizona Feeds Country Store, 4743 N. Highway Drive, one of the businesses close to the project.

Welling said management at the store — which supplies a variety of animal feed and other products — are not too worried about the project after choosing to hunker down.

“We are working with ADOT to develop some personalized maps on how to get to us, we’ll have those on our website as well as there is a map on the ADOT website that will help direct them this way,” Welling said.

“So it’s not going to be super complicated to get to our location and we’re just hoping that customers will make that trek out here although it’s going to be a little different than they’re used to.”

ADOT said it will be maintaining business access while frontage road restrictions are in place throughout the project. Crews will ensure access by temporarily converting the eastbound I-10 frontage road, south of Sunset Road, into a two-way road.

To start, motorists should expect intermittent restrictions and possible delays in the work zone for the next several weeks.

By early spring, a host of changes will arrive in the area, including the full closure of the interchange.

The I-10 lanes will also shift for around a year in each direction, ADOT said.

“By springtime, I-10 westbound traffic will shift to the westbound frontage road and eastbound traffic will move to the freeway’s westbound lanes. This will allow crews to demolish the eastbound overpass and rebuild a portion of I-10,” ADOT said.

“In about a year, eastbound and westbound traffic will shift to the new eastbound lanes while the westbound overpass is demolished and crews rebuild westbound I-10,”

Also, the section of I-10 cited as a hazard for motorists between Ruthrauff and Miracle Mile is being assessed for whether the rubberized asphalt will be replaced. Motorists are driving on concrete, which ADOT deemed safe last January.

Management at the Arizona Feeds County Store believes it’s doing all it can to prepare.

“We’ve been hearing from customers questioning when it’s going to start,” Welling said.

“A lot of that for a while now, but most of our customers appreciate our customer service, so they’re willing to make the hike out here and I just think they’re willing to bear with us through it.”

Down the Road

Prepare for changes at Ruthrauff and I-10: ADOT said motorists can use the following alternate route during the years-long interchange project. When the Ruthrauff Road interchange closes in late winter or early spring, alternate routes to I-10 for those on both sides of the freeway include Orange Grove Road to the north and Prince Road to the south. Also to the north of Ruthrauff Road, Sunset Road provides access to I-10 from the west.

Interchange project restrictions this week: Motorists should expect two overnight restrictions planned on I-10 this week so crews can place concrete barriers in the work zone.

Both directions will be narrowed to one lane between Sunset and Prince roads from 10 p.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m. Wednesday. Crews will begin again at 10 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday, and narrow only westbound I-10 to one lane.

Motorists should slow down and watch for personnel in the area.

Contact Star reporter Shaq Davis at 573-4218 or sdavis@tucson.com

On Twitter: @ShaqDavis1

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Reporter

Shaq is a public safety reporter and the Road Runner columnist, keeping readers up to date on transportation news. In 2017, he started as an apprentice and later worked part-time until graduating from the UA and being offered a full-time position in 2018.

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