Cortaro Farms/Magee Road widening project reaches milestone - Tucson News Now

Cortaro Farms/Magee Road widening project reaches milestone

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A project on the northwest side aims to improve roads for the future, as it promises to change the flow of traffic in what was a very congested area.

For now though, it continues to cause some big traffic headaches

The good news is that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel as the Cortaro Farms/Magee Road corridor is widened to four lanes from two.

After about 18 months, construction has hit the halfway mark.

The widening will be along a 5.4 mile-long route, from Thornydale on the west to Oracle Road on the east.

Phase One of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) project is nearly complete.

Crews are putting the last layer of asphalt on Magee, from Shannon to La Canada.

The final layer is rubberized asphalt that is supposed to last longer than regular asphalt and be a lot quieter.

Then, about mid-May, final paving will begin on Phase Two.

That runs from Shannon to Thornydale.

The third and final phase will make the Cortaro Farms/Magee corridor four lanes all the way to Oracle.

That last phase is expected to begin before the end of the year.

The road work has meant delays for drivers, and trouble for homes, businesses, and other locations along the road.

However, the fact that two-thirds of the project is about to be completed is great news to people who live and work along the corridor.

"We're going to be so happy when it's over because it's definitely had an impact on our business. We know that people are just not coming down the road because it's just too difficult to get to. Every every day it gets better and better and we're excited about when it's going to be completely over and we think our membership is going to have an upswing as soon as it is over," says Carol Cullivan, Associate Executive Director of the YMCA of Southern Arizona, Northwest Branch.

Pima County Transportation Director Priscilla Cornelio says the public has been very supportive at public meetings the county has held.

She says they remember mile-long traffic jams, especially at the intersection of Magee and La Cholla.

"By widening the road, getting rid of the jog that it's going to be a much much better place for drivers. In addition, we're handling all of the drainage out there and we're putting in sidewalks and bike paths. So, as I said, I see it as a transformation up on the northwest side," Cornelio says.

The whole $67 million dollar project is expected to be completed by fall of 2014.

So, we're about halfway there.

Something to watch for in the area.

It's the art piece at Magee and La Cholla.

The construction project requires that one percent of cost goes for art.

The piece is the only stand-alone work of art on the corridor.

We're told the artist says the glass and metal sculpture incorporates the gems, plants and life-giving water of the Tucson desert.

Other artwork is incorporated into noise walls along the way.

Voters approved the RTA and its $2.1 billion regional transportation plan in 2006.

They also approved a 1/2-cent excise tax to help pay for the 20-year plan.

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