Road runner: Readers question proposed Tucson-to-Phoenix train route

2013-07-15T00:00:00Z 2013-07-15T14:00:30Z Road runner: Readers question proposed Tucson-to-Phoenix train routeJoe Ferguson Joe Ferguson Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Readers filled email in-boxes and message boards and left voice mails after reading that the Arizona Department of Transportation was continuing to look at possible routes for a train between Tucson International Airport and Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.

The estimated minimum price tag - $5 billion for the 120-mile line - meant for many readers that it was dead on arrival.

The cost of $41 million per mile would buy a lot of new buses, one person suggested. But that would not relieve congestion along the road between Tucson and Phoenix.

But how expensive is it? Consider the costs of widening Interstate 10 between Ruthrauff and Prince Road - ADOT will spend an estimated $76.2 million widening the segment of I-10 to four lanes in each direction and building a new bridge at the Prince Road exit.

The cost of any construction to widen I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix could easily be in the billions of dollars.

And inaction has its own price - congestion between the two metropolitan areas is only going to get worse in the coming decades without new transit options.

One reader, perhaps tongue in cheek, suggested low-cost airline service between Tucson and Phoenix. But the cost of airport parking is liable to make this solution a nonstarter.

Another reader suggested it was too early to label the $5 billion price tag as a taxpayer expense, suggesting the private sector might have an interest in fronting a portion of the cost in exchange for a stake in the transit system. For now, let's see who is willing to step to the plate once planners figure out how much the planned route will actually cost.

Several readers asked if ADOT was considering some kind of ferry system, allowing people to take their cars with them as they ride the train to Phoenix or Tucson.

ADOT spokeswoman Laura Douglas said she was unaware of any plans to ferry personal vehicles on the proposed train, but that the state agency is still taking a 30,000-foot view of the proposal, gathering input from the community rather than making specific plans on what the commuter system would eventually look like.

However, she said any train line would be tied into existing public transit systems, so a stop at the modern streetcar line in downtown Tucson isn't out of the question.

Douglas said she expects each stop would offer a number of secondary transit options - from bus lines to nearby rental car agencies.

For the moment, ADOT is monitoring social-media channels, message boards and news articles as it takes the next steps in designing a formal proposal.

The next step for the agency will be to narrow the list of possible routes from three to one.

DOWN THE ROAD

• Construction crews working for the Pima County Department of Transportation and the Regional Transportation Authority will close the Orange Grove Road and La Cañada Drive intersection for the next three weekends in order to raise it about 3 feet to the final grade and elevation. Motorists are asked to use River Road, La Cholla Boulevard, Ina Road and Oracle Road. Residents along La Cañada north and south of Orange Grove will have access to their streets, and all businesses will be accessible.

• The city of Tucson will close the right lane of eastbound Speedway between Cherry and Warren avenues from 5 to 9 a.m. today. The closure will allow a contractor to place equipment in the roadway to pour concrete for the Warren Avenue underpass.

• Contractors will continue installation and adjustments of the overhead contact wire along Congress Street and Broadway from Toole Avenue to Granada Avenue. Motorists should expect lane restrictions in the area.

• ADOT construction crews will start repair work in the left lane of eastbound I-10 from the I-19 traffic interchange to Park Avenue beginning next Tuesday. The lane will be closed to traffic for two days from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to repair lights along the freeway.

• Westbound I-10 east of Tucson will be reduced to one lane next week on both Monday and Tuesday as crews continue to pave areas close to Marsh Station.

The lane closures will start at 6 p.m. on Monday, with traffic along westbound I-10 narrowed down to one lane about a mile and a half west of the Marsh Station interchange (Exit 291).

The speed limit will be reduced to 45 mph, with plans to reopen the area by Tuesday night.

• Construction crews will perform a chip- and fog-seal treatment on Sunset Road from Silverbell Road west to the end of the pavement, closing portions of the road on Wednesday and Thursday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

On StarNet: Read more Road Runner columns and updates. Go to azstarnet.com/roadrunner

Road Q

Dennis Davis writes:

Q: "Some years ago part of a county bond package was improvements on the east end of Sunrise, in the Foothills. Now Sunrise was widened and upgraded from Swan to Craycroft; Sunrise was upgraded (but not widened) from Craycroft to Kolb; but the third portion to improve Kolb south to Sabino Canyon hasn't even started. Can you find out what is going on?"

A: "Kolb Road from Sabino Canyon to Sunrise Drive is a project from the 1997 bond program," writes Ana Olivares, the deputy director of the Pima County Department of Transportation. "Although the project is currently outside of the Department of Transportation's five-year capital-improvement program, it is anticipated to be scheduled when additional funding sources are available, such as Highway User Revenue Funds. In the interim, the intersection of Kolb Road and Sunrise Drive was improved as part of the DOT 47 Sunrise Drive Project from Craycroft Road to Kolb Road."

Send your Road Q questions by email to roadrunner@azstarnet.com or to 4850 S. Park Ave., Tucson, AZ 85714. Please include first and last names.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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