The Camino de Mañana road project is progressing smoothly, on time and on budget, according to the project manager responsible for the construction of the roadway.
The Town of Marana project encompasses the roadways from Tangerine Road to the new Interstate 10 interchange at Linda Vista Boulevard and Twin Peaks Road.
The need for the roadway is crucial to relieve traffic congestion in the Dove Mountain area, according to Mac Murray, the Town of Marana's construction manager for the project.
"We are currently on schedule and on budget for the project and have been working closely with ADOT (Arizona Department of Transportation) to coordinate opening the roadway with them opening the new I-10 interchange in November of this year," Murray said. "Our target date for finishing our project is the end of November, and for certain we'll have traffic on the road in November."
The new road, called Dove Mountain Boulevard Extension, connects Dove Mountain Boulevard at Tangerine Road with Camino de Mañana. The entire project takes in 3.3 miles of roadway and will cost $19.5 million, excluding the cost of the state's I-10 Twin Peaks interchange.
"We had to go through a mile of virgin desert south of Dove Mountain Boulevard to get to Camino de Mañana," Murray said, "and the environmental concerns of the area have been foremost in our minds."
Murray pointed out that Borderland Construction Co. Inc., the construction manager at risk on the project, has saved many of the trees and cacti from that virgin stretch of desert, and they'll be transplanted to landscape the completed roadway.
"We also have numerous animal crossings, all of which go under the roadway, and most of them on the Dove Mountain Boulevard Extension," Murray noted.
The plan calls for one large mammal crossing (specifically for mule deer) that is 12 feet tall and 20 feet wide, six medium mammal crossings that are at least 24 inches high by 36 inches wide, and 28 small mammal crossings ranging from 24- to 36-inch diameter pipes.
The crossings, some of which also serve as drainage crossings, vary in length up to 130 feet long because many of them run on an angle to mimic natural drainage paths, as is the case with the mule deer crossing. That crossing is the largest of nine arch culverts that will cross under the roadway.
"Protecting wildlife is an important part of this project," Murray said.
While provisions have been made for wildlife to cross the new highway once it's completed, some area residents are concerned about the displacement of those animals during the road construction and the effects the animals are having on the neighborhood.
Sandra Robles, who lives north of the road project, said animal activity, particularly that of bobcats and javelina, has increased considerably since construction began.
"We can't go out in the evening any more because of the bobcats prowling out there," Robles said. "We've even had one bobcat go into our corral during the day and nip at the heels of our horses. And a pair of them, a male and female, killed five of our chickens and a duck in late January."
Robles noted that javelina activity around her home has increased, with "seven or eight of them regularly on my porch and in the yard rooting up plants."
Robles believes the increased animal activity is linked to the Camino de Mañana road construction.
"They probably can't cross that area freely because of the work going on, so their ability to roam has been condensed," Robles said. "I've been here 20 years and never seen anything like this. In the past 10 years we've only seen one bobcat in our yard, but now they're around all the time."
A neighbor, Wanda Hoskinson on Camino Pico Vista, had two ducks killed in February by bobcats when the cats jumped a wire fence that was open on top.
"My neighbor heard a commotion, grabbed a flashlight and saw it happen at 2 a.m.," Hoskinson said. "The bobcat jumped back over the fence, clearing it by a couple of feet, and had a duck in its mouth. The other bobcat was already outside the fence and had the second duck."
Hoskinson also noted that she regularly has a dozen or more javelina in her yard "day and night, knocking over the garbage cans, making a mess and destroying plants. We've always had a couple of them and some coyotes around," she added, "but never so many of them. It's an everyday thing now that their habitat has been destroyed by the construction tearing up the desert."
Murray, when questioned about the neighbors' experiences, said "wildlife abounds in the area of the project, but I haven't heard any concerns about the animals."