Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

ADOT, contractors deserve praise for I-10 job

We Americans love to complain about our government, which is not too surprising considering we’re a nation born out of rebellion. But more than often not, and more often than most are willing to admit, government gets it right.

The often-maligned Arizona Department of Transportation deserves no aspersions for its nearly completed $200 million, three-year reconstruction of Interstate 10 between Prince Road and 29th Street.

The project is about six months ahead of schedule and under budget. It should be finished by Christmas.

Predictions of an economic and traffic disaster for Tucson didn’t materialize. The local economy tanked on its own. I-10 had nothing to do with it.

The city streets weren’t gridlocked by the closure of every on and off ramp for six miles. The gem show didn’t pack up and leave town. The frontage roads were able to handle the several total closures of the freeway. The occasional traffic accident or disabled vehicle didn’t back traffic up to Eloy or Benson.

It was a bother, to be sure. But it wasn’t the total disaster many predicted back in 2005 when the plan was announced. Initially, the reconstruction was supposed to take 10 years, done in disruptive stages that would leave most of the freeway open.

But ADOT decided it would be better to do it all at once over a three-year period. The city and county balked at first, then got on board.

The chief architect of the three-year plan was Dennis Alvarez, ADOT’s district engineer for Southern Arizona at the time. He took a lot of guff at public meetings in 2005 before he retired, but he insisted the do-it-all-at-once plan was the best approach. He was right.

Thanks, Dennis.

The contractors should also get praise. Kiewit Western Co. in Phoenix and Sundt Construction Co. in Tucson will get a big cash bonus for finishing early. Every penny is deserved.

The state needs to study what went right here and work to duplicate it for every road project in the future.

Maybe it will be the beginning of the end of Americans griping about their government.

Nah, but here’s hoping.

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