Public weighs in on Broadway Boulevard widening project - Tucson News Now

Public weighs in on Broadway Boulevard widening project

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A multi-million dollar plan to widen a portion of Broadway Boulevard is gaining traction in its planning and design phase, which is now approaching its second year.

The Tucson Department of Transportation's Broadway Boulevard Citizens Task Force held its fourth community meeting to present its findings on performance studies for the project.

Hundreds of people attended the meeting at Sabbar Shrine on Tucson Boulevard Thursday night to weigh-in on the project, provide suggestions, and express concerns.

Organizers displayed posters detailing a comprehensive overview of the project's timeline and progress, including alternatives to the six-lane proposal.

The project would expand Broadway Boulevard between Euclid and Country Club Road from its current four traveling lanes and center turning lane, into six traveling lanes and additional lanes to accommodate public transit and bicyclists.

Months of performance studies looking into parking access, economic impact, traffic flow, pedestrian safety and sustainability were compiled into informational posters at Thursday's meeting.

"Our planning and design process has taken longer because we are being more thorough and we've introduced things into the mix that weren't thought of back in 2006. However, I think we can come to a decision on this project," said Jenn Toothaker-Burdick, Tucson DOT project manager for the Broadway expansion.

The task force also presented alternatives to the six-lane proposal, including a "refined" six-lane proposal, and a "refined" four-lane proposal with two transit lanes, among others.

The presentation attracted people who own businesses along the north and south part of Broadway Boulevard in question.

Russell Shumate opened his retro furniture shop on Broadway near Santa Rita Avenue in January.

"That would take apart the whole front of my business. I'd lose all my parking and my display and that's why I'm thinking if it comes to that, then I would have to move," Shumate said.

The cost to widen Broadway is currently projected to be $71,347,000. The Regional Transportation Authority will fund the bulk of the project, covering approximately $42 million. Pima County Transportation Bonds will cover $25 million and the City of Tucson plans to cover approximately $3 million. Roughly $1 million of regional funds would come from the Pima Association Governments.

"We are trying to be careful and thoughtful and do our due diligence. We also recognize however, we have a construction deadline that is part of the RTA plan," Toothaker-Burdick said.

The deadline to begin construction is scheduled for May 2016. Meantime, the task force will gather public input and make a project recommendation to the city council, which will make a final decision on the project.

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