Plans are in motion for a $1.2 billion Interstate 10 widening project and reconfiguration of Barraza-Aviation Parkway to keep motorists moving and provide better access to downtown.
The project would add up to two lanes in each direction from the I-10, I-19 interchange to Alvernon Way and up to four lanes in each direction on I-10 from Alvernon Way to Kolb Road. These improvements include addressing the corridor’s interchanges and bridges.
Alvernon Way would be designated State Route 210, known as Barraza-Aviation Parkway, along with an interchange that provides direct access from Palo Verde Road to Interstate 10 and an alternate route downtown, according to an environmental assessment from the Arizona Department of Transportation.
“This is really about reducing congestion on I-10 as well as congestion in and out of the downtown area by adding these additional lanes and having a freeway-to-freeway connection from I-10 to SR 210 along what is now Alvernon,” said Garin Grauff, a spokesman for ADOT. “At the same time, it will improve safety with additional lanes, improved interchanges (and) wider shoulders.”
ADOT says the project meets the needs of the county’s growing population, which by 2040 is expected to climb to nearly 1.4 million people from about 1 million now, according to the Pima Association of Governments, the taxpayer-funded regional planning organization. Meanwhile, Tucson is expected to grow from about 530,000 people to nearly 720,000 people during the same period.
A no-build option would lead to long waits at interchanges, causing breakdowns in traffic flow and an increased risk of crashes, according to the report.
Crashes in the project area have increased each year from July 2011 to June 2016, going from 335 to 486. A total of 2,056 crashes occurred in the five-year period, the report says.
But there’s significant work to be completed to get the project done, including acquiring at least 25 businesses in the proposed construction zone.
“These businesses are characterized as primarily commercial manufacturing, materials supply and construction services. There are no businesses in this area that are neighborhood-oriented,” the environmental assessment said.
However, the project’s potential impact has some business owners near the area worried.
“We were concerned and have many questions about the impact of this construction and past the construction how it’s going to affect our business,” Tim Pouliot, who owns a business on South Country Club Road, said at a public hearing about the project last month. “We have a significant amount of trucks that go in and out and you’re going to be right at the exit of the westbound section of I-10.”
Pouliot’s business is one of about 300 in the proposed construction areas.
Another affected business is the Triple T Truck Stop, which has been near the I-10, Craycroft Road interchange since 1966.
ADOT says a portion of the property would be needed for a traffic interchange to connect to I-10.
“The land acquisition is not expected to impact current operations or employment but may impact future development or expansion plans,” the report said. “The Triple T Truck Stop property owners expressed concern related to future uses for this land, which is currently used for overflow parking.”
But the needed acquisitions would lead to economic benefits for the region, the report 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.”
Those potential economic benefits are still years from being implemented as the project would be broken up into 18 pieces. The first project, construction of the Country Club Road traffic interchange, would be designed in 2022.
Residents could expect the final touches on the project around 20 years from now.
Down the Road
• Pima County road repairs planned for this month: Motorists should look out for the following road construction in Pima County:
From Dec. 2 through Dec. 26: Crews will be repaving Houghton Road from Flintlock Trail to Fort Lowell Road between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
From Dec. 3 through Dec. 26: Crews will be milling and repaving Mount Lemmon Highway from Soldiers Trail to Catalina Highway between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
From Dec. 4 through Dec. 26: Crews will be milling and repaving Irvington Road from Country Club Road to Outlet Center Drive between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
From Dec. 5 through Dec. 27: Crews will be milling and repaving Palo Verde Road from the city limits to Mossman Road between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
• Guardrail repair planned for Silverbell Road: Crews will be repairing the guardrail on Silverbell Road near Abington Road beginning Tuesday between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
A lane closure will occur along southbound Silverbell. The work should be done by Friday.
Motorists should use caution and watch for personnel in the area.