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Road Runner: Crucial hurdle cleared for $1.2 billion project improving I-10, Barraza-Aviation
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Road runner

Road Runner: Crucial hurdle cleared for $1.2 billion project improving I-10, Barraza-Aviation

I-10 and SR 210 Study by the Arizona Department of Transportation

The plans for a $1.2 billion Interstate 10 widening project and reconfiguration of Barraza-Aviation Parkway recently cleared an important hurdle in efforts to one day provide better travel experiences in Pima County.

The Arizona Department of Transportation’s final environmental assessment to determine impacts to areas surrounding the project was determined to have “no significant impact,” the report said.

The goal is to widen I-10 from I-19 to Kolb Road and to provide an extension of Arizona 210, Barraza-Aviation Parkway, from Golf Links Road to I-10.

Alvernon Way in this area would be designated Barraza-Aviation Parkway along with an interchange that provides direct access from Palo Verde Road to I-10, ADOT said.

“Adding a connection between I-10 and SR 210 in southeast Tucson would facilitate the use of SR 210 as a business spur, providing local downtown traffic with a desirable alternative to I-10, offloading traffic, and thereby improving traffic operations on I-10,” ADOT said.

Overall, the project would add up to two lanes in each direction from the I-10/I-19 interchange to Alvernon Way, up to four lanes on I-10 from Alvernon Way to Kolb Road as well as the improvements to the corridor’s interchanges and bridges. About 15 miles of road will be addressed.

While not directly tied to the ongoing Downtown Links project connecting Broadway and I-10, this will bring benefits in accessing the downtown area, according to ADOT.

The plans were put in motion to address a growing area population that’s expected to reach nearly 1.4 million people by 2040, including Tucson’s estimated growth from 530,000 to nearly 720,000 people in this period.

ADOT also acknowledged that the I-10 system east of the I-19 interchange established in the 1960s, along traffic interchanges like Kino Parkway, are elements that currently “adversely impact traffic operational efficiency and safety” and will further degrade as traffic volumes increase.

The assessment lists some 495 crashes on average that have happened within the project limits from 2014 to 2018 and may be attributed to the old design of the interstate system.

The department also listed in the assessment that there is a high rate of crashes at the Barraza-Aviation connection at Alvernon.

To address these concerns, the long-term plan will be broken up into 18 projects to be completed in the next 15 to 20 years.

The design of the first two projects, the traffic interchanges at Kino Parkway and Country Club Road, are included in the five-year transportation plan by the Pima Association of Governments, the taxpayer-funded regional planning organization.

PAG is seeking to have the projects designed in 2022, followed by utility work and construction about a year to two years later.

Protecting surrounding area

However, before breaking ground crews will have to be aware of possible impacts ADOT said it would follow in the final assessment, including concerns for community members, plants and animals.

Crews will construct noise barriers “as early as possible in the construction phasing” as a mitigation effort to aid properties in the project area from construction-related noises, ADOT said.

Engineers will ensure “detailed drainage analyses” are completed in each phase of final project design to hopefully relieve homeowners who reported concerns

Department officials added that there will be other impacts, such as noise, vibration, dust and temporary street restrictions or closures.

“However, these construction-related impacts will be temporary, and traffic control plans will be implemented to maintain access to schools, parks, emergency services, commercial properties and neighborhoods throughout construction.”

Not to be excluded from the impacts is the right-of-way acquisitions needed near Aviation and Golf Links Road.

The assessment said it would lead to 25 businesses being relocated resulting in potential job loss. Those business in the project areas will receive help from the Regional Transportation Authority Main Street Assistance Program, which specializes in business consulting.

Protecting plants and animals

The assessment said that protected native plants within the project area will be impacted, however, ADOT’s Roadside Development Section will seek approval from the Arizona Department of Agriculture for any native plant relocation.

Crews will even have to address invasive plant species from being transported into the construction area by washing hauling equipment prior to entering the area.

There’s a similar process to address concerns for animals, including birds. ADOT’s Environmental Planning biologist will evaluate how to avoid active bird nests. Additionally, crews will have to review materials regarding the Western burrowing owl as no activities can take place within 100 feet of active burrows.

“Though the positive effects of widening the interstate and traffic interchanges would most directly apply to the operation of personal and commercial vehicles, trucks and buses, the project would enhance the movement of people, goods and services throughout the region, which would benefit all residents,” ADOT said.

Down the Road

Overnight lane restrictions at I-10 near Houghton Road: As part of the I-10, Houghton Road interchange project, motorists will experience overnight lane restrictions on Monday and Tuesday.

On Monday, westbound I-10 will be reduced to one lane followed by eastbound travel on Tuesday. Each restriction will last from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Overnight ramp closures along I-19 in Nogales: The southbound I-19 off-ramp to Arizona 189, Mariposa Road, will be closed overnight Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Motorists should access Mariposa Road using the Grand Avenue ramp.

The traffic signal at Mariposa and northbound I-19 on-ramp will be temporarily deactivated on Tuesday and Wednesday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to relocate two electrical boxes.

Law enforcement will direct traffic through the area.

Stories behind Tucson-area street names:

Contact Star reporter Shaq Davis at 573-4218..

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