Modern Streetcar: Construction crews rip up the road on 4th Avenue
Reporter: Valerie Cavazos
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A giant downtown construction project is underway and it's going to create several detours, street direction changes, and a main drag will be closed for at least four months.
It's all to make room for Tucson's Modern Streetcar. Crews have been tearing up downtown and 4th Avenue-area streets for a few months now -- small potatoes compared to what's about to happen.
The first thing drivers will notice is that Congress Street will be closed between 4th Avenue and Stone. Traffic will be detoured down Toole Avenue and Alameda. 6th Avenue will become a two-way street and some side streets will be closed as well. There will be new stop lights at some intersections.
Business owner Jeanine Lopez, owner of Second 2 None salon and barber shop, is nervous as she stands outside her salon watching crews rip up the road to begin building the line. She said, "With the construction going on, I don't want people to think that we're closed because of the construction."
Project manager Jesse Guteirrez says crews are off to a fast start. "After one day of construction I can say that we're one day ahead of schedule. We anticipated that this would take a couple of days.
The equipment is operating efficiently today so we're going to get all this asphalt in the next couple of days and start removing the tracks."
KGUN9 reporter Valerie Cavazos asked how long the 4th Avenue construction would take and if Gutierrez can guaranteee that it would be completed in a reasonable amount of time. Gutierrez answered, "First of all, this section -- we're anticipating 4 to 41/2 months of construction before the the major portions of this work is done and we start opening up the roadway. In terms of guarantees, obviously when you're working with underground construction, there are very little guarantees. But there are very strong assurances -- so we're confident that we can get this section done in that amount of time.
Congress will be closed Monday night to begin work there. We will be restriping Toole Avenue -- and we'll restripe 6th Avenue for a 2-way conversion. That happens tonight and first thing into the morning. Then we'll close of Congress from Toole to Stone," said Gutierrez. Three temporary traffic lights will be installed to help facilitate the flow of traffic.
Sun Tran routes downtown are also changing and passengers are encourage to plan ahead because there may be delays from the detours. SunTran communications manager said, "Several downtown routes will be on detour with the lane restrictions. So we'll be providing information on our website -- suntran.com -- as those restrictions change."
Bottom line -- if you're heading downtown -- patience and caution are the keywords.
For more information on the Modern Streetcar project and construction -- click here.