4th Avenue open during storm drainage work

October 7, 2011

By Teya Vitu


Torn up streets will abound near the 4th Avenue retail district through March, but shoppers should be spared driving headaches

Considerable street drainage construction will block off sections of 7th Street, 8th Street and 5th Avenue for weeks at a time through the cooler months.8th_Street_Drainage_Map-_2010[1] 

Nearly all the work will be west of 4th Avenue and will avoid the main road access to 4th Avenue.

6th Avenue and University Boulevard, primary arteries to 4th Avenue, will remain free and clear. And 4th Avenue itself will be open to through traffic.

“There will be complete access to the Avenue,” said Kurt Tallis, marketing director for the 4th Avenue Merchants Association. “There shouldn’t be a problem for shoppers. These are back streets nobody knows about unless you live in the area.”

FAMA welcomes these 8th Street Drainage improvements. They are designed to eliminate the periodic flooding that plagues 4th Avenue every few years as the mostly underground High School and Arroyo Chico washes bubble up during nearby microbursts of rain.

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

Double-barreled culverts that each are 12 feet wide and 10 feet high will replace a single 10-by-10 foot culvert that has been in place since the 1930s and has not been improved in that time.

The historic Arroyo Chico culvert winds partially under 8th  Street and partially under private property on its westward journey beyond 6th Avenue. The new culvert will reroute Arroyo Chico entirely under public right-of-way on 8th Street, 5th Avenue and 7th Street. 

Much of the flow from the High School Wash will be diverted a half block south to a new culvert on 8th Street that will merge with the Arroyo Chico culvert at the intersection of 8th Street and 4th Avenue.

Digging trenches is expected to start Oct. 24 on 7th Street at 6th Avenue and proceed in 24-foot chunks eastward. This cut-and-cover process should take 15 working days on 7th Street, said Jesse Gutierrez, construction manager for the Tucson Department of Transportation.

But turning the corner from 7th Street to 5th Avenue will take 30 working days and should be done in early December.

7th Street will be closed to through traffic on that stretch for the duration, but there will be local access on that block except for the 60-foot section closed for construction on any given day, said Andy North, project manager for Borderland Construction, the project contractor.

Work on 7th Street will then be done between 6th and 5th avenues, but the driving headaches won’t yet be over on 7th Avenue.

A second, smaller 60-inch culvert will be installed on 7th Street between 3rd and 5th Avenues. Here, one block at a time will be fully closed off to drivers during construction.

Meanwhile, the primary double-barreled culvert work will turn south onto 5th Avenue and head south for one block to 8th Street, again at the rate of 24 feet a day, again lasting 15 working days, followed by another 30-day stretch to turn onto 8th Street. The 5th Avenue work will close off the street mostly during December.

8th Street will no longer be open to traffic between 4th and 5th avenues once the drainage work arrives there for the last three months of the project in January, February and March. The street will remain permanently closed as that will be the access route for the Modern Streetcar Maintenance Facility.

Construction on the streetcar maintenance facility will start as soon as the 8th Street work is completed.

“Now is the ideal time to rebuild the drainage for this area,” said Tom Fisher, project manager for Downtown Links.

The project will also convert one block of 6th Avenue to two-way traffic between 6th and 7th Street. This is the second stage in the city’s ambition to eventually convert all of 6th Avenue to two-way traffic. 6th_Ave_Two-Way_Conversion-_final[1]

The 8th Street Drainage project is the first of four phases for the Regional Transportation Authority’s Downtown Links, the proposed four-lane roadway to connect the Barraza-Aviation Parkway to Interstate 10.

The second phase is the reconstruction of .6 miles of St. Mary’s Road from Interstate 10 to Church Avenue. This will include an entirely new roadway, sidewalks and bicycle lanes.

The city plans to go to bid in December for the St. Mary’s stretch with construction expected to start in January and continue to the end of 2012.

No funding has been secured for the third and fourth phases to build the new route along the east side of the railroad tracks to reach Barraza-Aviation.