- Q. When will the project begin?
- A. The design will be completed by the winter of 2009. Pre-lowering of utilities will be done in the spring of 2010. Construction of the roadway is projected to begin in the summer of 2010. The exact dates have not been set as we are coordinating this work with the activity of the other projects in the area. A pre-construction meeting will be held prior to construction beginning. Look for an invitation in the mail in the summer of 2010 and then message boards declaring when the work will actually start.
- Q. What are some of the features of the design?
- A. The widening of Speedway Boulevard from Camino Seco to Houghton Road will provide two through lanes in each direction with a 20-ft wide center landscaped median. Concrete curbs, new rubberized asphalt paving, six-foot wide sidewalks, bike lanes, and frontage roads will be provided from end to end and promote alternative modes of transportation. Drainage improvements include storm drains, catch basins, and reinforced concrete box culvert crossings to control flooding and provide all weather crossing capability. This project also will include new traffic signals at Harrison Road and Houghton Road. Signalized pedestrian crossings are planned at Schrader Lane and Igo Way. Street lighting for driver safety and neighborhood security will be included as well. The project will be landscaped and include public art.
- Q. What can be done about the ugly overhead utility lines along the south side of Speedway Boulevard?
- A. All of the wood poles along the south side of Speedway Boulevard will be removed. New steel poles at a wider spacing will be installed for the primary power lines. This will help to improve the appearance of the area and provide less obstructed views of the mountains. The secondary power and communication lines on these poles will be relocated to underground conduits as part of the project.
- Q. Why has it taken so long to complete the design?
A. The funds to design and widen this road were originally included in the1997 Pima County Bond election. These funds ran short and this project was deferred to a later bond election. Funding for this project is now provided by development impact fees and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).
There are several washes that cross Speedway Boulevard and improvements in these washes require Army Corps of Engineering approval. Applications have been made and the environmental clearances will dictate the time this project will actually begin. We expect to receive approval by the fall of 2010.
There is a known archeological site within the project limits that has caused the planning of the work to be delayed too. An archeological clearance is necessary as well as monitoring during construction.
- Q. Why can’t sound walls be included in the design?
A. Generally, the Tucson DOT does not include screening or sound attenuating walls on its roadway widening projects due to negative aspects associated with walls. These negative aspects include graffiti, weed control, crime prevention, cost, and inefficiency. This project will, however, provide for retaining walls at locations where grade elevation differences warrant them.
There is a common misconception over walls. Some residents want privacy screening while others want sound attenuation and often confuse the two. In order for a sound wall to be effective, it must be taller than the adjacent home, stout in width and have no openings along its length. Residents do not want to look at a wall that is as high as their roof peak. This blocks the sun and mountain views to their home. The dimensions of the sound wall require that it be designed to structurally support its mass, withstand the wind and vehicle impacts. This makes it very expensive and cost prohibitive. Finally, there are too many residential street intersections or driveways that must access Speedway Boulevard. This would require too many openings in the wall to make it effective.
Screen walls are typically what residents mean. Most homes have walls around their back yards but do not want walls around their front yards. Although residents may desire additional screening from the street, walls constructed along a street frontage provides vandals and burglars a place to hide according to the Tucson Police Department and these walls will continually be tagged with graffiti leaving an unsightly and costly situation to address for all concerned.
If sound is the concern, the Tucson DOT has used rubberized asphalt material as the final paving course. It has proved to reduce tire noise significantly. It is also more durable than conventional asphalt.
- Q. When will Broadway Boulevard be improved?
- A. Broadway Boulevard is in the planning stages for portions and will not be constructed until Speedway Boulevard is complete. Broadway Boulevard is scheduled to go to construction in 2017.
- Q. We do not like the glow of street lights in the sky. How can this be addressed?
- A. Streetlights provide safety to drivers as well as security to residents. They light they way for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers. They discourage burglaries and vandalism. Despite this benefit, it is not uncommon for residents to sometimes feel the view of the stars in the night sky is more important to them than the security these lights provide. Unfortunately, we must install them for safety and liability reasons; however, we have used shields successfully on other projects to block the glare. Residents can request the shields. The shields can be added to specific streetlights to help reduce the glare in the sky, adjacent to their homes.
- Q. How much will this construction cost?
- A. The cost of construction is estimated to be $16M. Funding is from impact fees and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). The construction will take up to two years to complete.
- Q. How is the public art to be incorporated into the street design?
- A. Three public artists will be collaborating to integrate public art into the landscaping of this project or as part of structural elements in the roadway design.