The latest on the Broadway Improvement Project - Tucson News Now

The latest on the Broadway Improvement Project

Broadway expansion project meeting. (Source: Tucson News Now) Broadway expansion project meeting. (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The design concept for the Broadway: Euclid to Country Club Improvement Project is 60 percent complete and is on display for the general public for the first time.

The roadway is being widened to six lanes as part of the 2006 RTA 1/2 cent sales tax ballot question passed by voters.

The widening was earlier conceived as a much broader project but was downsized following the objection of merchants and area neighborhoods. The city approved the latest design following a series of public hearings and changes.

Project cost is estimated to be $71 million, much of it from the sale tax and about $3 million from the city of Tucson. 

Now that 60 percent of the design is complete, some merchants may see for the first time, the fate of their businesses.

For some, their fate was likely sealed because they would be losing their customer parking spaces. For others, it was just the thought of going through construction and the affects it can have on business.

Kevin Sarullo, owner of Pet Designs, is one of those. He's moving no matter what.

"I do not want to be around for any construction," he said. "I'm ready to move."

The city has been authorized to begin buying properties that will be affected by the widening such as Pet Designs, which will lose its parking. 

Sarullo has been talking to the city but has yet to begin negotiations but feels he "will get fair market value" from the city. 

However, for others like John Davis, the owner of Metaphysic's World, he likes where he is and would like to stay. 

"I thought I'd make it if I lost some parking," he said. But when he found out he would lose it all, staying "became impossible."

He's resigned to leaving but has not begun to negotiate as yet.

However now, there may be an alternative to owners like Davis who want to stay.

Rio Nuevo and the city have worked out a deal, since the city is precluded by law from negotiating with the property owners. 

The city of Tucson can't use transportation money for economic purposes which is why Rio Nuevo has stepped in to assist in salvaging the Sunshine Mile. 

"Reactivating Sunshine Mile," said Rio Nuevo Chair Fletcher McCusker. "The idea is bring back what was Tucson's first driving destination."

Tucson city council member Ward VI Steve Kozachik, who has been an outspoken critic of the project, applauds Rio Nuevo for trying to save the integrity of the street.

"Some of these businesses that otherwise would simply be demolished because we're taking their parking away, they're salvageable."

He says, for example, the city buys nine of the properties and then resells them to Rio Nuevo, not for profit, but for preservation.

"They can go in and meet with the property owners and say you want to stay, you want to go," he said. "And they can start cutting deals and save these small businesses that would otherwise turn into asphalt."

On Thursday night dozens of community members came into the Broadway Expansion open house held at the Sabbar Shrine Temple to give their feedback and leave comments on the neighborhood map of the Broadway design concept so far, now that 60 percent of the plans are complete. 

The public was also able to weigh in on different designs for plants and benches that may potentially be included in the project down the road. Tucson News Now spoke to a homeowner who lives on Broadway and doesn’t plan to move, but she is experiencing problems accessing her property and fears it will only get worse once construction begins. 

“I’m already having problems getting in and out of my house. I can only go one direction. I have to make u-turns or go a mile out of my way to get back around to my house,” Carolyne Reed said. 

Pastor of the First Assembly of God church on Broadway, Jim Munns, said they were slated to lose a number of parking spaces in the expansion. However with the updated design revealed on Thursday, the project manager informed him the sidewalk will be pushed right up to the curb, which will save some of the parking spaces. Munns said he and the building owner are appreciative of the changes but they’ve decided to put the church up for sale. 

“Our main concern is how close the street and sidewalk is up to the front doors of the church and the front steps. It could be worse, but it’s getting a little close there and we are also losing a couple of spaces on the west side of the parking lot,” Munns said. 

Broadway Project Manager, Robin Raine said they will take a close look at the comments made at the meeting. Their goal is to have the design phase of the project complete by the end of this year or early 2018. 

For more information on the Broadway Improvement Project click here: http://broadwayboulevard.info/home 

Copyright 2017 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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