Tucson's whistle stop days coming to an end - Tucson News Now

Tucson's whistle stop days coming to an end

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

When the six o'clock freight train barrels through downtown, everyone knows it.

The trains have to let cars and pedestrians know it's coming so it blows its horn over and over and it reverberates and bounces off the buildings. 

But soon, the trains and cars won't cross paths anymore.

The new Downtown Links project has a tunnel. Cars go underneath. The trains go quiet.

"Most people in downtown like that," says Thomas Fisher, the project manager for the third and final leg.

Still, the Federal Transportation Department must approve the application for the quiet zone but in this case, it's likely a formality.

Tucson is in the final stages of design for the final leg of the Downtown Links corridor which bypasses downtown and connects the Aviation Corridor with the freeway.

Well, close to the freeway. The state transportation department eliminated the on ramp at St. Mary's years ago. The new roadway will connect on the access road.

Tucson is still in the acquisition stage as well.

"We still have some properties to buy," says Fisher.

Those acquisitions could prove costly.

"The area is zoned industrial," he says. "Oftentimes we're finding abandoned fuel tanks."

The soil will need to be cleaned up before the roadway goes in.

The city recently received a $400,000 brownsfield grant from the federal government some "of which will be used to clean up the area."

"We found an abandoned tank of transmission fluid," Fisher says. "Union Pacific has an abandoned diesel line all along the tracks."

So while design is nearly complete and "we'll know it's footprint", it's still about 18 months away from turning the first shovel of dirt.

But 15 to 20 buildings will need to be demolished and those start in the next couple of weeks.

So there will be a constant reminder here and there of what's coming.

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