Join the Celebration Thursday – 4th Ave. Underpass Openingby Ben McNitt on Aug. 19, 2009, under arts
THIS SHOULD BE ONE GOOD PARTY!
Beginning Thursday afternoon from the UofA Main Gate, to 4th Avenue, to Congress Street, La Placita and pretty much all downtown the celebration of the opening of the new 4th Avenue underpass will get underway – and keep going well into the evening.
This should be fun. Make plans to go. Particularly, enjoy what this is all about – the linking, finally, of a continuous activity corridor from the UofA to downtown’s emergent arts, dining and entertainment center through 4th Avenue’s well-established cultural scene.
Try the tarot card readings at Old Town Artisans (201 N. Court), the beef skewers at Painted Cave Cattle Co. (on Congress), free face painting at the Children’s Museum, Happy Hours all over the place, the Tucson Birthday Cake competition at the Hotel Congress (5 pm), the antique car show at the historic train depot, the Harley Davidson motorcycle show at La Placita Village, the Hot Rod show at Maloney’s ,and the kilt contest at Flanagan’s Celtic Corner (222 E. Congress and you’ve got to be wearing one to enter).
Along 4th Avenue live outdoor music will begin around 5 pm: Desert Bluegrass Association at the Chocolate Iguana, Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl at Delectables, a TBA group at Magpies Pizza and Phantom DJ, The Rowdies and El Camino Royales at Winsett Stage.
Tucson’s Mat Bevel will provide a performance sculpture – a unique experience.
A full events listing is provided at the Downtown Partnerships web site.
Politicians will get things rolling with a 4 pm ribbon cutting at the new underpass – Mayor Bob Walkup presiding.
The downtown trolley – that hasn’t been downtown since 1930 – is scheduled to bust the ribbon and run continuously to midnight from the UofA campus, along 4th Avenue to downtown where it will circle around the Rialto Theatre block for a new circuit.
All this for a railroad underpass?
The UofA and 4th Ave. have been choked off from downtown for years by what was a narrow, dingy, ill-lighted underpass that seemed to say “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.”
After two years of work (Sundt Construction), and $46 million in regional gas tax money (way over budget, but that’s another story), the new, well-lit underpass provides two traffic lanes, separate bike lanes and two pedestrian paths (one 10 and one 20 feet wide) – along with artwork that’s still in progress.
This project is vital to downtown revitalization.
“It’s hugely worth celebrating,” says Susan Gamble of WAMO – the Warehouse Arts Management Organization. “It’s the unification of downtown, where there’s been such limited access in the past, and it sets the stage for the light rail project.”
So if you want to see where Tucson’s going – go to Thursday’s downtown celebration.
(Full disclosure: I volunteer with WAMO’s communications team.)