City explores solutions to ease downtown traffic gridlock

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City explores solutions to ease downtown traffic gridlock

By Justin Schecker. CREATED Aug 21, 2014

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - With the University of Arizona students back in town, the City of Tucson is setting up a detour at the 4th Ave. underpass with the goal of easing congestion on busy weekend nights downtown.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 7pm until 2am, only the Modern Streetcar, pedestrians and cyclists can travel southbound through the 4th Ave. underpass. Cars must turn right or left on 9th. St.       

"All this has been re-developed in the last 2-3 years," Deputy Transportation Director Carlos de Leon said, while showing 9 on Your Side a map of downtown. 
With a more desirable downtown comes the downside of more traffic, especially along 4th Ave. 
The owner of The Shanty bar Bill Nugent has seen the delays for streetcar passengers and motorists alike on weekend nights.
"Here you can be backed up all the way to University from 9th St.," he said.
The logjams have left streetcar passengers waiting an extra half hour, de Leon said.   
"When you have that kind of headway, or what we call frequency, people aren't going to wait for it anymore, so it is important we get back on schedule," he added.
Motorists can always use Stone, 6th Ave. or Broadway as alternative ways to commute into downtown.
"The problem that we get into there is then the neighborhood associations get all grumpy we're feeding all that traffic," Nugent said.
Nine on Your Side shared the news of this weekend's test detour at the Iron Horse Neighborhood Association's meeting. 
"I can see it being a real stress on the neighborhood," one Iron Horse resident said, "a lot of that residential area is not intended for that sort of volume of commercial traffic."
"Each step of the way we may inconvenience folks and we're trying to minimize that while maintaining the traffic flow," de Leon said.
City officials say permanently changing the traffic light timing on Congress St. last week has improved the flow of traffic. If this detour doesn't help, de Leon says the city will test other solutions to prevent the major traffic back ups.