Construction on the West Moore Road and North La Cañada Drive roundabout will begin Sept. 18. The process of getting to construction has been a bit more complicated than anticipated, but town staff was adamant this project stay on schedule and on budget. And we have done both.
Our initial estimates were that construction would start in the summer and take approximately nine months to complete. With a Sept. 18 start date, we’re starting a little later than we planned, but we will compress the schedule and finish this project in approximately nine weeks. Weather permitting, the project should be completed by Nov. 22. The accelerated schedule will allow the town to save money on the project, and re-open the intersection before the holidays.
The caveat to this shorter schedule and budget savings is that we will completely close the Moore and La Cañada intersection during construction. Closing the intersection is not a decision the town takes lightly, and it is a change from what we initially discussed during the public input meetings last year. If we were to utilize the original plan (keeping the intersection open but with lane closures), construction would have extended through January 2020. And during that extended time, drivers would invariably create their own uncontrolled detours through adjacent neighborhoods. However, if we close the intersection completely, not only do we shorten the project time, but we can also establish official detour routes which will be monitored by additional Oro Valley Police Department patrols.
Perhaps most importantly, a shorter project time and complete intersection closure means a significant reduction in construction area safety concerns, both for drivers and for workers.
Part of the construction detour plan includes placing a four-way stop at the Copper Springs Trail, Salt Cedar Drive and Moore Road intersection. Other roads will be deemed local access only and signage will be set up for that purpose. There’s a construction detour map available on the Town’s website at orovalleyaz.gov.
For a little background on this project, as the town has grown and traffic increased, there have been increasing safety concerns and accidents at the intersection. The police department asked public works to look into the matter, so we conducted a traffic study that indicated the need for improvement to the intersection. The decision to construction a roundabout was based on public safety. Roundabouts are generally safer than traffic signals as they decrease speeds and remove the possibility of direct “T-bone” collisions. Roundabouts aren’t right for every intersection, but they have their place.
On the topic of public safety, the town worked with our public safety partners to prepare for construction. We consulted with the Golder Ranch Fire District and OVPD to ensure their emergency vehicles can get through this intersection when the need arises. The contractor will be poised to move barricades and alter their work to provide access for emergency vehicles so our public safety agencies can maintain their response times.
We will also make accommodations for after-hours access for emergency vehicles.
The town will also be in contact with other organizations, such as area schools and public transportation to help anticipate changes to their schedules.
Ideally, we wanted this work to occur during the summer, but the project started a little later than intended because once the town determined a roundabout was the best choice, we began the design portion of the project and brought a contractor on board to help steer the team to create a buildable project. Unfortunately, the initial bid from that contractor came in well over budget, so we had to press the pause button while we secured the services of another contractor that could work within the town’s budget.
The total cost for this project, including design and construction is $1.1 million, and because of the type of contract we were working on, a job order contract, the contractor had to stay under budget by statutory limit.
The delay caused by the original contractor may ultimately have been beneficial, because the town was able to secure another contractor who could perform the project on schedule and under budget. However, that contractor—Borderland Construction—wasn’t available to begin work until September. So we are excited that everything ultimately came together, including a compressed construction schedule that will have the intersection re-opened before the busy holiday season.
We realize that road construction is an inconvenience, especially a complete closure. So thank you for your patience, and please bear with us through these growing pains while we work to improve the safety and efficiency of this intersection. Stay tuned for information from the town on how to use roundabouts.
In the meantime, if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at AskOV@orovalleyaz.gov or 229-4711.
Paul Keesler is the Oro Valley Director of Public Works and Town Engineer.