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Streetcar construction starts this week; will cause massive traffic disruption

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Construction on the  3.9-mile Tucson Modern Streetcar line starts this week and will result in restrictions, closures and detours.

The $200 million voter-approved project will begin this week and the streetcar team estimates it will be a year before they complete the construction and start testing cars on the line.

The construction will result in road closures and detours requiring drivers and cyclists alike to find alternate routes to get through downtown, Fourth Avenue and the University of Arizona.

Streetcar officials will post updates on their website each week alerting people to the traffic changes and closures.

University of Arizona President Eugene Sander sent an email to all faculty and staff last week alerting them to the construction impact. In it he wrote:

As many of you already know, the Modern Streetcar will soon begin construction to connect the University of Arizona and the University of Arizona Health Sciences to Downtown Tucson.  This project is to be completely funded, constructed, and operated by the City of Tucson and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), but it will benefit the entire Tucson community, including UA students, faculty and staff.  The Streetcar will provide new opportunities for UA engagement with our growing City Center, providing a quick, convenient and sustainable form of access to and from the campus, Main Gate Square, the Fourth Avenue Shopping District, and Downtown Tucson.

The construction is slated to kick-off in the first week of April.  Construction will require the removal of nearly the entire road surface in many places and detours can be expected as tracks are installed.  The first phase of the construction will include the Warren Underpass, which will be closed for approximately one year.  Those using that underpass will be detoured to the Highland Underpass.  Second Street from Warren Avenue to about Olive Street will be closed intermittently with the goal of having that street open for traffic before the Fall semester.  The Cherry and Mountain cross streets will be maintained as much possible as will the pedestrian and bike crossings at Highland and Olive.  Second Street Garage and access to the 3039 parking lot will also be maintained.  We have been working closely with the city to minimize disruptions, but a project of this size will cause us to adjust our routes and could cause traffic delays.  Additional construction will be happening off campus along the future Streetcar line.

The streetcar has been met with mixed emotions by many in the community including cyclists. You can read about the concerns cyclists have about the Modern Streetcar including the battle they lost with the city over the type of rail selected for the project, by clicking here to read TucsonVelo.com archives.

Each week during construction, I will attempt to highlight the biggest changes and challenges for cyclists along the route.

Here are the highlights for this week, major closures are in bold:

Downtown:

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  • On April 9 from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., Toole Ave. will be closed between Congress St. and Alameda St. to restripe the roadway.
  • On April 9 from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., 6th Ave. between Broadway Blvd. and Alameda St. will be closed to restripe the roadway and facilitate installation of a temporary traffic signal
  • Beginning April 10, 6th Ave. will be converted to two-way traffic between Broadway and Alameda. The roadway will be restriped and three temporary traffic signals will be installed at Broadway Blvd., Pennington St. and Congress St. This traffic control will help facilitate traffic flow during closures of Congress St. and Broadway Blvd.
  • Beginning April 10, Congress St. will be closed to vehicular traffic between Toole Ave. and Stone Ave. This closure will be in place 24 hours per day and will require additional traffic control:
  • Toole Ave. between Congress St. and 5th Ave. will be one-way northbound travel only.
  • Motorist and cyclists traveling southbound on Toole Ave. must exit at 5th Ave. Local business access to the Depot will be maintained.

Fourth Avenue and University:

  • 4th Ave. from 9th St. to University Blvd. – Overhead conductor system removal will be performed throughout the week of April 2. One block at a time will be closed during the removals in a rolling closure.
  • University Blvd. from Park Ave. to Bean Ave. – Overhead conductor system removal will be performed throughout the week of April 2. One block at a time will be closed during the removals in a rolling closure.
  • Traffic on Euclid Ave. at University Blvd. will be maintained during the day.
  • Beginning on April 9, 4th Ave. will be closed between 6th St. and University Blvd.
  • Pedestrian access along 4th Ave. will be maintained at all times.

UA and Health Sciences Center:

2nd Street from Park Ave. to Olive St. – The roadway will be closed to facilitate tunnel work.

1 comments
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The University to 6th St. closure on 4th Ave. will be for 4 months. Then it will be 6th St. to 9th St. for the 4 months after that. If all goes according to schedule.