More downtown detours cause confusion and rush hour traffic jams

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Traveling downtown during construction for the modern streetcar can be confusing.

A street or turning lane that was open yesterday might not be open today.

That's what a few thousand Pima County workers found when they tried to navigate their way to the county parking garage.

The City of Tucson sent the county a memo late Friday afternoon.

The memo tells the county there'll be a huge change in the way some 3,500 county workers get into the downtown parking garage.

The county's complaint is that late Friday was a too late to notify all the county workers of the change.

At least one Pima County supervisor says, with a little better notice, the county could have perhaps staggered shifts to prevent enormous traffic jams the change has created.

Instead, we're told even the detour wasn't workable Monday morning because of heavy traffic.

The detour on the way to the county's downtown parking garage will be in place until the end of June.

Board of Supervisors Vice Chairperson Sharon Bronson says she's disappointed the city is not communicating enough with downtown entities, including Pima County.

"It was a little disappointing because we were told this was happening and weren't consulted beforehand because we could have been able to come up with a more practical solution than what exists now. It's kind of disappointing that we haven't had that communication," Bronson says.

She says what's worse is that the confusion makes it even more difficult to attract shoppers and diners downtown.

"There's no question if you're dealing with this kind of confusion, people are going to find someplace else to eat, someplace else to shop. The only people who will come down here are the people who work down here," says Bronson.

Streetcar Construction Manager Joe Chase says, "We do like to give more advance notice than what happened last week. We were working with the county to try to come up with a viable solution that both parties could agree with. We did send out a map. It was Friday, which I know is a little late in the week, but we did get them a map with detours to alleviate their confusion and try to navigate around the construction."

"What we're going to do is going to work with TPD to see what we can do to speed things up traffic-wise, whether that be maybe even looking at adding some more officers at, let's say, the Congress and Church intersection. See whatever really it's going to take to move things around in a better fashion," Chase says.

Chase says July 7th is the target date for all major construction to be completed downtown.

He says that means no more major detours, though there will be lane closures when a street might be down to one lane as workers finish things like sidewalks and overhead streetcar lines.

When will downtown streetcar construction be totally finished?

Chase says that will be in late summer.

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