The City of Tucson is hosting an open house at Himmel Park Library tonight from 6-7:30 to talk about proposed improvements to the 3rd Street and University Boulevard bike route and creating an alternate route to avoid riding next to the streetcar on University Boulevard.

Tom Thivener, the City of Tucson bicycle and pedestrian program manager, said he will lay out the city’s plan for upgrading the already popular bike route into an official bicycle boulevard spanning from Wilmot Road to Main Avenue.

Additionally, he will talk about creating an alternate bike route on Fifth Street, “from Old Main to Ninth Avenue as an alternative to riding on university, which will understandably be more complex with the streetcar.”

Plus, he said, “The corridor is going to be under construction for a while, so we need this alternative anyway. ”

There is an existing refuge in the center island on Euclid Avenue, which allows cyclists to cross in two stages.

Thivener said crossing Euclid Avenue will be accomplished by using the existing center island refuge as opposed to adding a bike crossing signal.

“[The refuge] functions now,” he said. “It is pretty easy to cross. There is always a gap in traffic.”

As for University Boulevard and Third Street, the city plans to use $90,000 in RTA funding to improve the corridor and make it an official bicycle boulevard.

They plan to add way-finding signs and pavement markings like the ones being used on the Fourth Avenue/Fontana Bicycle Boulevard. They will also improve various intersections, add traffic calming and put a bike crossing signal at Swan Road.

Thivener said he was aware that the pavement is poor on Third Street, but said the RTA money can’t be used on neighborhood streets for pavement preservation.

“I know that it is a priority,” he said. “We have done surveys out there and people said they want better pavement.”

Even if the money could be used for that, he said, it wouldn’t do much good.

“We’d spend the entire budget and not get very far,” Thivener said.

Thivener said he is hoping to get feedback from people who utilize the corridor and live along it before the plans are finalized.

View Upgrades to 3rd Street and University in a larger map

5 thoughts on “City plans 3rd/University upgrade and streetcar bypass route”
  1. I have always loved riding on 3rd since I was in high school.  The slow (but steady) progress on improving the crossings has been much appreciated.  Unfortunately, I can’t make it to the open house (living in Seattle now), but I am wondering whether there are plans for more crossing improvements like on Craycroft.  Anyways, great work Tucson!  You’re bike facility engineering make me proud!

  2. The alternate route is NOT currently available between Park and Euclid due to the construction on Tyndall.

  3. Calling this an alternative route rather than a temporary route bothers me. There is one good route and the city has already designated it with appropriate facilities.
    You can cross Euclid at 5th St.  It looks pretty calm when schools are not in session and during non-peak hours. There’s often a surprising amount of traffic on 4th Ave. to contend with when crossing. I guess 6th Ave will be OK with traffic coming from just one direction. Crossing Stone? I really don’t like to do that anywhere other than at the TOUCAN at University. Not saying it can’t be done, though. I am saying each of these crossings is more problematic in their uncontrolled state for cyclists crossing in significant numbers. The degree of parity to the main route can’t be obtained enough to call this a good alternative.

  4. I’m up for improving it, but why don’t we extend it to Pima College’s West campus on one end and Tanque Verde Loop Rd. on the other?  Let’s stop goofing around and get serious.

  5. For 5th St – Stone is a little tougher to cross. 6th Ave is cake. Euclid is easy to cross and depends on the time of day, but I use it all the time during the school year and don’t have many issues.

    It would be great to designate the crossing at Euclid in a way that cyclists aren’t using the cross walk. I think it always creates confusion to drivers when bikes ride through a cross walk, or are waiting at a cross walk. Should they stop? Are they pedestrians? Are they traffic? Are they waiting to turn right? Is that legal? You know…

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