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colin

tucson: i-10 widening project

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Time to finally to post this. ADOT has had this site up for almost a year now:

http://www.i10tucsondistrict.com/29toP.html

They've had a couple of public meetings, I've received mailers, and it's been heavily discussed in the local papers. However, nothing has been done yet.

The schedule used to indicate that work was to start this Spring with signal timings (it's currently on a sensor at all intersections). But then, the City came and asked "Hey, what if we buried it Downtown?" That delayed the project to its current schedule whilst ADOT worked out the staggering new numbers. It also received relatively little support from those outside of the civic community, mainly due to the added costs.

The really interesting thing about this particular project is that two lanes in both directions will continue through Downtown the whole time (currently 3), but all exits will be closed from I-19 to Prince Road, a distance of about 7 miles. This, of course, may cause problems for the many roadside motels and restaurants in this stretch, as well as for the poor, weary traveller, who may now have to stay at one of the crack motels around Sixth Avenue.

The main thing that bothers me about it is that it doesn't leave a potential Aviation Parkway connection open near Speedway, or at least the plan makes no mention of it. The transportation politicos here have been quite insistent that Aviation will be extended from its current, odd terminus at Broadway east of Downtown, all the way to the interstate, the route of the failed Kino Parkway/I-710 back in the 70's. Much freeway upgrading would be necessary to facilitate this, and this project seems like the perfect time to do so, so as not to disrupt the 10 yet again if and when it goes through.

It it doesn't (which it probably won't due to neighborhood opposition), then we'll have one of those cool ghost ramps like in other cities.

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so my question to you is, is it needed. How are the freeways in Tucson?

In Phoenix the answer to freeway problems, add more lanes, build more freeways. At what point does a city say, Ok we've built ten lanes going each way and 16 freeways servicing one city. We need to come up with another transit solution.

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Tucson's freeways aren't really the primary routes for the majority of the metro area's commuters. Most filter out onto various major arterials, and that has kept the traffic to a very acceptable level (comparatively).

That stretch of I-10 is at least 15 years old, and definitely needs a make-over. To widen it makes sense, especially with the amount of thru and truck traffic that goes through there. One advantage Phoenix has is that any west- or east-bound thru and truck travel can go around the area via I-8, and usually does. Tucson doesn't really have a bypass route, which is why you see so many of them on the freeway here.

That's how all cities do it, it seems. I don't think Tucson will build much more in the way of freeways, except the eventual I-10 widening from Tucson to Benson, thus forcing people to seek out alternative means of transit. The level of freeway and development opposition here is deep-rooted, and, for a city its size, Tucson has a long list of scrapped freeway projects.

But I don't know about Phoenix. A lot of the opposition that kept the freeway system down for many years there seems to be gone. I think that whatever happens with the southwest leg of the 202 will be a good precursor for the future of the Valley's freeway development.

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