The stretch of West Ina Road between Silverbell Road and Star Commerce Way that includes a bridge across the Santa Cruz River will look quite different in a few years after the town of Marana and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) turn the two-lane road into a four-lane improved roadway.
Town and ADOT officials presented final design plans for that stretch of roadway to approximately 35 people at a public open house last week, held in Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr. Branch Library.
Scott Leska, Marana’s Capital Improvement Program Engineering Division manager, said the project will improve traffic capacity and circulation between the Interstate 10 interchange and Silverbell Road by widening the roadway to four lanes, constructing two new roadway bridges over the Santa Cruz River, raising the road’s median and adding pedestrian facilities.
“Improving the mobility of traffic in that corridor is our chief goal,” Leska said. “We’re planning ahead for a growth in traffic on the road.”
Leska pointed out that the new roadway will include sidewalks and multi-use lanes for bikes and breakdowns. Pima County’s multi-use bike paths that currently cross West Ina Road at the existing Ina Road bridge will be rerouted under the new bridges that will be built, he added.
Work on the roadway and bridges is not expected to begin until the Fall of 2016, Leska said, when ADOT begins work on the I-10 Ina Road interchange as part of its Interstate 10 Ina Road Traffic Interchange to Ruthrauff Road Traffic Interchange project. The ADOT project is expected to build a grade-separated interchange at Ina Road with new traffic loops on the interchange’s East and West sides. The traffic loops, built at grade (ground) level, are necessary because the interchange will rise about 24 feet over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and the newly-expanded I-10 that will be constructed at grade level.
Leska noted the Marana project is being tied in with the ADOT project because the town is not self-certified, which is a requirement for a federally funded project.
“We also will alleviate some of the construction congestion by doing our project when ADOT does the Ina Road interchange,” he said.
Leska said that no physical structures will be displaced by the Marana project, and that only a minor amount of public and commercial land will have to be acquired for the right of way.
When the project commences, Leska said a new southern bridge will be built over Ina Road while traffic continues to use the existing bridge. Once the southern bridge is completed, it will be opened to traffic and the old bridge demolished and replaced with a new span. Each of the two new bridges will carry two lanes of traffic and a multi-use lane.
Janine Spencer, a Marana environmental project manager, said the town is making provisions to preserve the habitat of an estimated 30,000 bats that roost under the existing Ina Road bridge.
“The new bridge on the south of the roadway will have nine bat roosts built into the bridge structure,” Spencer said. “They are about 14 inches by 48 inches and have a number of different size openings to provide access for different bat species.”
The bat roosts will be constructed of concrete and concrete backer board, and won’t have any sharp edges that might harm the bats, she observed. Building the roosts into the under-structure of the bridge also provides better insulation for the bats, Spencer said.
Before the new southern bridge is constructed, temporary bat habitat boxes will be affixed to the underside of the existing Ina Road bridge for the bats to use as roosts while construction continues, Spencer pointed out.
Spencer noted the bat habitat plans have been approved by the Pima Association of Government’s Wildlife Linkage subcommittee.