More than 150 citizens and business owners filled the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center meeting room March 10 to hear Arizona Department of Transportation staff members and consultants give a preview of potential reconstruction planned for Interstate 10 from Ina to Ruthrauff roads.
Project improvements being considered include widening I-10 to 10 lanes along a six-mile corridor from Ina to Ruthrauff roads; building grade-separated crossroads over I-10 and the Union Pacific Railroad at Ina, Sunset and Ruthrauff roads; and replacing the I-10 bridges over Orange Grove Road, the Cañada Del Oro Wash and the Rillito River.
Todd A. Emery, Tucson District engineer for ADOT’s Intermodal Transportation Division, said the project addresses the need to improve traffic capacity and future traffic volumes anticipated for the year 2040. It will also improve access and safety at interchanges with railroad crossings, widen inside shoulder lanes in some areas of I-10 and upgrade bridges over the Rillito River that currently don’t meet freeboard requirements from the bottom of the bridges to the water surface elevation.
The project is being done in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration and the Regional Transportation Authority, as well as Pima County, the town of Marana and the city of Tucson.
When asked the project’s cost, Emery said he expected it would be similar to the $125 million cost of the I-10 widening from Prince to Ruthrauff roads.
Emery pointed out the project is in its first phase where ADOT prepares a design concept report, an environmental assessment to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, and a project implementation plan to detail the order of construction activities, their timing and the funding elements.
He said government officials and property owners already have been briefed on the project, and he expects the draft environmental reports to be completed this spring and the initial design concept report and implementation plan by the summer. A public hearing on those elements will be held in the summer or fall. Emery said he expects the final design concept report and environmental assessment to be completed by winter of 2011.
Mike Bertram, project manager for HDR, a Tucson engineering consulting firm working with ADOT on the project, said the decision for grade-separated intersections at Ina, Sunset and Ruthrauff roads was chosen as the best of four alternatives that either went over or under the freeway and railroad tracks.
Other considerations include:
• The proposed Ina Road interchange would have its midpoint at about the current location of the Union Pacific Railroad. It would be raised approximately 35 to 40 feet above the tracks and a new I-10 roadbed dropped to current ground level.
• The interchange ramp would start on the west at a signaled intersection at Starcommerce Way near the Marana Operations Center and end on the east at a newly created, signaled intersection east of Chuy’s restaurant.
• The interchange on both the west and east side of I-10 would include new loop roads at ground level to give access to businesses that would be below the level of the ramp roadway. The Ina Road I-10 overpass is planned to have six lanes east of I-10 and four lanes west of it.
• The Ruthrauff Road interchange ramp would begin at a signaled intersection near Pima County property west of I-10 and touch down again at a signaled intersection at East Parkway Drive.
• Loop roads for business access would be constructed both west and east of the interchange.
Emery pointed out that the new interchanges would be very similar to one currently being constructed at Prince Road and also to the newly completed interchange on I-10 at Twin Peaks Road.
He said when the new interchanges are built, the roadways likely would be completely shut down because the construction is so complex in such tight areas. Emery estimated that it would take between 18 and 24 months to finish construction of one of the new interchanges.
Time frames for construction of the interchanges have not been decided yet, Bertram noted, and a decision has not been made on which interchange to construct first. He said that it would be unlikely for both the Ina and Ruthrauff roads interchanges to be built at the same time because of access issues for Northwest residents.
Questions from the audience at the meeting dealt with access to the freeway during construction, public artwork, environmental concerns, drainage issues, the length of time intersections will be closed, the timing of the closures and business access during construction.