An illustration of the median with bike cut-throughs.

The Union Pacific Railroad and the City of Tucson have started construction on a new median, which includes cut-throughs for bikes to cross Sixth Street at Ninth Avenue.

The city’s bike and pedestrian program manager, Tom Thivener, said the railroad approached the Department of Transportation because accidents often occur at the intersection. The railroad wanted to build a median to prevent motorists from making left turns into and out of the neighborhood.

The median would have prevented cyclists from using Ninth Street as a route into and out of downtown Tucson, which Thivener wanted to avoid.

“We recognize that 9th Avenue is a current bike route and a future bike boulevard so we wanted to retain access,” Thivener said. “When we designed it we wanted to make sure we had bike access so we put in a couple cut-throughs.”

A photo of one of the cut-throughs for bikes.

He said the median isn’t wide enough to act as a refuge for cyclists to wait for traffic to clear in each direction. Thivener said based on observations, cyclists are already waiting for traffic to clear in both directions and proceeding across the entire street.

He said it won’t change the way cyclists proceed through the intersection, but they won’t have navigate around motorists making left turns.

Thivener said the construction should be completed in a few weeks. In the meantime, cyclists should seek an alternative route.

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