Downtown Links Road Work is Starting on St. Mary’s Road

November 19, 2012

By Teya Vitu

Six years after voters approved the Regional Transportation Authority, the first road work is starting on Downtown Links.

St. Mary’s Road will get reconstructed from Interstate 10 to Church Ave. over the next 15 months.

Downtown Links is the “four-lane arterial roadway connector” that will link the Barraza-Aviation Parkway to Interstate 10 via a new road along the railroad tracks, a realigned 6th Street and St. Mary’s Road.

A ground breaking ceremony will take place on Nov. 28 at 9:30 a.m. at the triangle formed by 6th Street., Davis Street and Hughes Street. That’s between the freeway and Granada Avenue.

That launches a 15-month construction period on St. Mary’s Road that will involve a changing variety of lane restrictions from Interstate 10 to Church Avenue. Drivers will likely encounter segments of St. Mary’s reduced to one-lane in each direction, but the street will be open to traffic for nearly the entire construction period.

“There will be very minimal impact for the first five months,” said Andy North, project manager for Borderland Construction, the contractor for the St. Mary’s project. “There will be lane closures as we are putting in utility lines.”

The St. Mary’s and Granada Avenue intersection will be closed to traffic for three weekends after the gem show in February.

Also, St. Mary’s Road will be closed for 30 days to all vehicle traffic between Main and Church avenues around March 25.

The first five months will involve utility work under the street. The tangle of old water, sewer, electric, telephone, cable and gas lines will be replaced and relocated to create a clear path for a new 90-inch storm drain under St. Mary’s, North said.

The new storm drain will take storm runoff from the north edge of the El Presidio Neighborhood to the Tucson Arroyo.

“During summer, this road floods pretty good. This will take care of all that,” North said.

Downtown Links is as much about improved storm drainage at the north edge of Downtown and the 4th Avenue area as it is about building a bypass road around Downtown to reach Interstate 10. Earlier this year, Borderland Construction was also the contractor for the 8th Street Drainage Project, which put in new storm drains on 8th Street, 7th Street and 5th Avenue.

After the utility work, during the summer of 2013, the entire St. Mary’s roadway will be rebuilt from I-10 to Church with four vehicle lanes, six-foot bicycle lanes on each side, eight-foot-wide sidewalks on each side, landscaping, lighting and a signaled pedestrian crossing, said Tom Fisher, the planning project manager for the Tucson Department of Transportation.

Updated public information is available at 622-9000 and www.downtownlinks.info.

This St. Mary’s stretch is the second of four phases of the Downtown Links project. The first phase was the 8th Street Drainage project.

Phases three and four will be building the new stretch of 6th Street about a half block north of the current alignment and the new roadway along the east side of the railroad tracks.

The design of phases three and four started one-and-a-half months ago and should be completed in about two years, Fisher said.

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