Downtown gem show preps on schedule - Tucson News Now

Gem show preps on schedule

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Driving through downtown Tucson right now is a challenge to say the least.

It's a zig-zag through a maze of no left and right turns, one way streets and what seems to be gazillions of blinking street barriers.

It will be that way until mid summer when all the streetcar work is finished and the construction workers can go home.

In the meantime, patience is of the essence.

And now, with Tucson's premier showcase in town, the race is on to made it as accommodating as possible for the thousands of national and international visitors who will pump a few million dollars into the local economy.

Tops on the list, make the TCC and the downtown gem shows as accessible as possible while still staying on the construction schedule.

"We are working as fast as we can," says construction project manager Jesse Gutierrez.

There is now just one full day before the Gem Show officially marks its opening on Saturday and the annual city kickoff on Friday.

Gutierrez needs to make sure the 25,000 people who will come to the TCC can get in and out as easily as possible.

That's why his crews have been working double shifts, holidays and weekends to get the work done before the show opens.

"Obviously, we'd like to have more breathing room, but we'll get it done on time," he says,

There have been delays with weather, contractors and other glitches which have forced him to race against the clock to finish by the deadline.

Still, even though the hurry up work is being done to make sure Gem Show won't see much inconvenience, it doesn't mean problems for the streetcar schedule.

"The project needs to continue moving forward," he says. "Work will move to the university and other areas."

That means even though work will shut down near the Gem Show for the next two and a half weeks, work will continue in other areas, so there will be no reprieve for those folks.

The Cushing Street Bridge will also gets its first big test. There will be a parking lot on the west side of Interstate 10 with free shuttle service to the Gem Show venues and the TCC.

It's not so far that people can't park and walk across the bridge to the venues either.

It's what the bridge was designed for, to link East and West.

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