County getting ready to rebuild La Cholla
Randy Metcalf/The Explorer, Pima County is developing a design concept plan to reconstruct La Cholla Boulevard from Magee to Lambert, which would include a 600-foot bridge over the Cañada del Oro Wash just south of Overton Road.

An all-weather La Cholla Boulevard "will be a boon to Oro Valley and Pima County residents," according to Priscilla Cornelio, the director of the Pima County Department of Transportation.


County Supervisor Ann Day is in agreement.


"If there was ever a road, besides La Cañada, that needs improvement, it's La Cholla," Day told the audience at a La Cholla open house on Dec. 1. As she drove from her Foothills home to the meeting, Day encountered heavy traffic on the sometimes winding, two-lane La Cholla. "I hope you're glad that RTA and the county is finally going to do something about La Cholla," she said.


Pima County is developing a design concept plan for the section of La Cholla from Magee to approximately Lambert Lane, with the collaboration of the Regional Transportation Authority and the Town of Oro Valley. A northern section of the road from Lambert to Tangerine would be built later, with Oro Valley assigned design and construction.


A reconstructed La Cholla will be two lanes in each direction, with six-foot paved shoulders, curbs and storm drains, a separated, multi-use pathway and a raised, landscaped median. It would be paved with rubberized asphalt for improved durability and less noise. A 600-foot bridge would be constructed over the Cañada del Oro Wash.


"All-weather crossings" over major and minor washes are identified as a project highlight. There is not a bridge over the CDO currently, and La Cholla often closes during monsoonal floods.


"You get a little drop of rain, this all closes down," Cornelio said.


"That bridge over the CDO, that I just think is a wonderful thing, will be the longest bridge the county's ever built," Day said. "When this is completed, yes, you will be able to drive through this area during the monsoon season, without barricades and detours."


The CDO bridge would reside on concrete piers, five piers supporting each of the twin spans. At each pier, three concrete structures up to six feet in diameter will be poured into drilled shafts up to 100 feet deep.


At the bridge, there will be two 11-foot lanes in each direction, with six-foot shoulders, a five-foot pedestrian walkway on one side, and an eight-foot multi-use lane on the other. The future southbound bridge is "very close to the La Cholla alignment we have now," said Dave Perrotti, senior bridge engineer with country contractor URS Corp. "We'll build the northbound bridge first, shift traffic there, then build the southbound."


An expanded La Cholla would provide "a safe, parkway-type alternative north-south route to La Canada and Oracle roads, and would connect with the widened La Cholla from Ruthrauff to Magee," according to county literature.


Day had advocated that La Cholla move higher on the RTA priority list, and that has occurred. She thanked officials who "reprioritized, and moved this project forward in the first place, understanding the dire flooding and drainage issues in this area."


Construction could begin in early 2012, Day said. 








Equestrian survey part of La Cholla road investigation


An equestrian survey is being conducted as part of the La Cholla Boulevard road improvement project.


The Pima County survey is intended "to assess the various equestrian uses in the area near La Cholla Boulevard from Magee Road to Tangerine Road," a document indicated.


Dean Papajohn, civil engineering manager for the Pima County Department of Transportation, said in an e-mail to the La Cañada Magee Neighborhood Association that PCDOT wants "to learn as much as possible about equestrian usage and needs in the area of La Cholla."


People who ride horses are being asked where they stable animals, where they are headed when riding near La Cholla, where they cross La Cholla, when and how frequently they ride near the roadway, and what conditions they find. The survey has a map of the La Cholla region between Magee and Tangerine, and it asks riders to indicate where they cross La Cholla, and where they ride parallel to the roadway.


Carol Brichta is assembling responses on behalf of the Pima County community relations office. She may be reached at 201 N. Stone, Fourth Floor, Tucson, 85701, by fax at 740-6439; by e-mail at


Surveys were due Nov. 30.


Project information is available at










Comments on La Cholla accepted through Dec. 15




Public comments on improvement of La Cholla Boulevard from Magee to Tangerine roads is being accepted through Dec. 15.


People are being asked their "primary interest" in La Cholla, what they like about the proposed project to initially widen La Cholla from Magee to Lambert, and to list questions or concerns they have about the project.


Comment forms may be sent to Pima County Community Relations, 201 N. Stone, Fourth Floor, Tucson, 85601; or faxed to 740-6439.


Information is available online at


Carol Brichta may be contacted at 740-6410. 








Draft of noise study to panel


A draft noise study report along La Cholla Boulevard from Magee to Tangerine roads is being presented to a roadway citizens advisory group Tuesday, Dec. 8.


"They give feedback," said Bill Holliday, an engineer and acoustical consultant with the subcontractor Sound Solutions.


With feedback incorporated, the firm presents a final noise report to the Pima County Department of Transportation in early 2010, Holliday said.


Pima County is about to rebuild the portion of La Cholla from Magee Road to Lambert Lane. As part of its analysis, the county is studying noise levels, and projecting what they would be with a new, four-lane, faster La Cholla paved with sound-reducing rubberized asphalt.


From a study, the county would determine where noise mitigation, which may include walls, is warranted. A project information sheet from the county indicates "walls to mitigate sound where feasible if determined desirable by adjacent property owners."


The noise study has been under way for several months, Holliday said. It analyzes the likely impacts "where noise-sensitive receivers are," both existing residents as well as future developments.


Right now, La Cholla has more established homes along its northern reach, from Lambert to Tangerine roads. There are a number of platted, future projects along the roadway, and sound engineers must take those into account as eventual "receivers" of roadway noise, Holliday said.


A sound analysis computer program allows engineers to identify land contours and distances from the roadway. "We predicted what the existing noise levels were," Holliday said, then verified those levels and projected future impacts.


"Where it exceeds" the county standard of 66 decibels, "we have to address mitigation," Holliday said.


Mitigation has been a source of contention along La Cañada, which is being rebuilt between Calle Concordia and Ina Road. Along La Cañada, neighbors and a neighborhood association objected to recommended noise mitigation, and argued for enhanced protection. Ground is being broken on that roadway project this week.


 "We want to hear from you," Supervisor Ann Day told a La Cholla open house audience last Tuesday. She acknowledged members of the citizens advisory group in the crowd. "Please keep contact with them, and stay informed," Day said. "They will do their best to keep the lines of communication open."


Day asked for patience. "There's always a problem when you have to build roads through built areas," Day said. "I hope you will bear with the county. In the end, I'm confident it will be a success, and the county will deliver a beautiful, functional new roadway."







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