There is a growing traffic headache downtown.
No, it has nothing to do with the modern streetcar, Prop. 409 or a new RTA project.
Westbound traffic along Broadway most mornings is backed up bumper to bumper at the Congress Street-Fourth Avenue-Toole Avenue interchange.
The reason can be traced to the middle lane of Broadway coming into downtown.
The right lane is dedicated to turning north onto Fourth Avenue, and the left lane turns west onto Congress Street.
The problems in the middle lane are significant as drivers have a choice between continuing on Toole or making the left turn onto Congress.
Drivers who cut each other off to make last-minute lane changes as they drive along Broadway’s tightest curves only add to the gridlock.
Andy McGovern, with the Tucson Department of Transportation, concedes there is a problem with the tricky intersection.
The city has studied the problem, he says, as well as convened a safety assessment of the intersection. While drivers are stuck with it in the short term, there are long-term plans to increase signage along the route.
Plans include painting signage on Broadway itself as well as hanging new signs on the Diamondback Bridge, officially known as the Broadway Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge.
Karlen Ross, a manager at Hotel Congress, said that while it takes five minutes for rush-hour traffic to move through the two intersections near the hotel, it is still a good problem to have.
He sees the traffic jams every morning as a blessing in disguise: The amount of traffic through downtown signifies a growing interest in the new stores, restaurants and events in downtown Tucson.
A good problem to have, he says, even if it means you are stuck in traffic.
DOWN THE ROAD
• On Thursday, city contractors will remove the existing overhead contact-system wires running through the Fourth Avenue underpass. That will restrict travel to one direction at a time through the underpass between 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Motorists and cyclists are advised to use Sixth Avenue.
• On Tuesday, the Pima County Department of Transportation will begin a two-month sidewalk-enhancement project in Summerhaven, on Mount Lemmon, from the main parking area along Sabino Canyon Parkway to Upper Goathill Road.
• Arizona Department of Transportation work along Arizona 86, the Ajo Highway, will cause delays starting this week. Crews will work on a project to improve an 8-mile segment of the two-lane highway west of Tucson. Motorists should expect minor delays. Traffic will be reduced to a single lane in both directions beginning on Tuesday.