First phase of Grant Road widening begins

Published: Mar. 21, 2011 at 11:18 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 30, 2011 at 12:43 PM MST
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By Barbara Grijalva - email

Tucson, AZ (KOLD) - One of Tucson's biggest road improvement projects finally is getting underway.

One of Tucson's biggest road improvement projects in the Regional Transportation Plan voters approved in 2006 finally is getting underway.

The Grant Road widening project, passed in 2006 as part of the voter-approved Regional Transportation Plan, will add travel lanes, bike lanes and more between Oracle and Swan roads.

First up, Grant and Oracle.

This is the first phase of the five-mile-long Grant Road widening.

An illustration of the phases take us from today all the way 2026.

A lot of us just avoid Grant Road, if we can; it's four lanes of heavy traffic all the way from Oracle to Swan. The widening project will make that stretch a six-lane divided roadway.

Voters approved the widening and a half-cent sales tax to pay for it.

First the widening will move west from Oracle through Park Avenue.

"Then we jump to the east side and deal with Grant and Swan and march our way then towards the center," said Jim Glock, City of Tucson Transportation director.

The first tiny steps started Monday with crews locating underground utilities that will be moved.

The road itself will be unique in Tucson, featuring an indirect left turn that is expected to ease the congestion at intersections.

"And that's where folks who want to turn left will actually go through the intersection and make a U-turn at a signalized location and then come back and make a right turn," Glock explains.

The whole thing will be done in phases.

Some people already know they'll lose some of their property, or all of it.

Others are not sure yet how it will turn out.

Glock says, with a long-term plan like this, things can change along the way.

There's still a lot of negotiating going on, as owners will be compensated for lost property.

"They're taking my property across the street and they've been unwilling to make any commitments in terms of my location here," said Kent Solberg, co-owner of Kent's Tools.

For tenants it's a different story.

The owner of the Enchanted Dragon Tattoo parlor doesn't own the property, but he has established his business there.

In fact Victor Tackett has two Grant Road businesses he'll likely have to move.

He says he's up in the air.

"So, we're just not sure whether we jump and move now into a building that's available or wait and find out," Tackett says.

Glock says there's relocation help for tenants who qualify.

All businesses can use the Regional Transportation Authority's MainStreet Business Assistance Program to help them weigh their options over the years.

Then, of course, there are the drivers who might be thinking they should avoid the whole thing for the 20 years or so years it takes to widen Grant Road.

"Absolutely not," says Glock.

"We want you to continue to utilize grant and patronize those businesses that are there."

There will be an open house, 5:30- 7:30 p.m., March 30 at College Place, 1601 N. Oracle Road.

Copyright 2011 KOLD. All rights reserved.