An improved highway along a stretch of Interstate 10 through Northwest Tucson may be in your future once the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) investigates all the options after taking comments and suggestions from the public.

ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) held a public scoping meeting on Dec. 15 at Coyote Trail Elementary School to introduce the I-10 Tangerine to Ina Road Study, discuss the environmental and engineering processes, lay out the schedule and get area resident and business input.

Approximately 40 residents and business owners attended the meeting. About 20 ADOT staff, FHWA representatives, consultants and stakeholders were there to make presentations and answer questions.

Todd Emery, P.E., ADOT’s Tucson district engineer, said the goal of the study is to develop a long-range plan for an improved roadway along that portion of the I-10 corridor.

“The members of the public that live in this area and drive the road every day are the people we’d like to hear from,” Emery said. “They are the ones who likely would be aware of specific problems or issues that relate to the roadway or its access points.”

Emery pointed out the study is looking forward 30 years — to 2040 — to try and determine traffic needs at that time and come up with a plan to address those future needs.

“We want to make sure we have the safest, most efficient roadway system for the public, so this study is to determine what needs to be done in the Tangerine to Ina Roads corridor,” he added.

Emery noted the study will develop and evaluate possible alternatives to widening I-10 in the corridor, consider alternatives for the reconstruction of the Avra Valley Road and Cortaro Road traffic interchanges and review potential improvements to the frontage roads in the study area.

Similar studies are already under way for the sections of I-10 from Ina Road to Ruthraff Road and from the I-8 interchange to Tangerine Road, he added.

William D. Schlesinger, P.E., of AECOM, an ADOT consultant on the project, said the new study will encompass the I-10 corridor from south and east of the Tangerine Road interchange to north and west of the Ina Road interchange.     Neither of those two interchanges are included in the study area, he pointed out, because the Tangerine Road interchange was part of the I-8 to Tangerine Road study and the Ina Road interchange was part of the Ina Road to Ruthraff Road study. In those instances, consideration is being given to grade separated interchanges at both locations.

Emery stressed the Tangerine to Ina Road study is anticipated to take about two years to complete.  ADOT expects to present possible alternatives and an initial Design Concept Report to the public in the Spring of 2012, followed by public meetings to review the report and get public feedback on it and the alternatives presented, he said.

By late 2012, Emery said ADOT plans to unveil a technical analysis of the referred alternative and develop an Environmental Assessment that documents the potential impacts to the social, economic and natural environments.

The ADOT schedule calls for a public hearing to review the preferred alternative and make formal comments on the Environmental Assessment in early 2013, and to release the final Design Concept Report and Environmental Assessment in the summer of 2013.

Emery said he expects ADOT will ultimately develop a plan similar to that for the Ina Road to Ruthraff Road project where I-10 would be expanded to four lanes in each direction with room for a fifth lane in the future if the need arises.

However, he cautioned, any plan that is developed to respond to future I-10 needs is dependent on funding, which has not been allocated at this time.

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