City might provide more space for Union Pacific
A revised alignment of Sixth Street from east of Seventh Avenue to Church Avenue will be discussed by the city Downtown Links Citizens Advisory Committee on Monday.
The changes by the Tucson Transportation Department would reconstruct the segment of Sixth Street a half-block north of its current alignment and require the demolition of seven structures.
The reason: Union Pacific Railroad officials have told city transportation planners that the utility may want to construct a third set of main tracks through the city, which would pass over a planned Sixth Street underpass at the railroad crossing west of Ninth Avenue.
The news angered owners of businesses bordering the Tucson Arts District, who said the alignment shift was made without enough public comments, including from owners of business properties that would be purchased for the project.
“We spent two years working on an alignment that they now have changed,” Natasha Winnik, owner of the Originate Natural Building Materials Showroom, 529 N. Ninth Ave., said.
The business has been at the location for five years, and Winnik has spent much of her time involved with the project. It is part of a larger effort to complete the Barraza-Aviation Parkway through downtown to provide motorists with alternatives to clogging city streets going to and from Interstate 10.
Nearby neighborhoods also will feel impacts from the change in the recommended alignment.
“This really doesn’t work for Dunbar Springs or West University,” Ian Fritz, president of the Dunbar Springs Neighborhood Association, said Wednesday.
The proposed alignment shift would require the demolition of more structures than the previous one – seven – and also would bring traffic into the neighborhoods, Fritz said.
Other properties that would face condemnation are the Lucky Street Studios, 520 N. Ninth Ave., and the Mat Bevel Institute, 530 N. Stone Ave.
Kinetic and video artist Ned Schaper has operated out of the institute for the past 12 years.
Schaper said his building, which he rents monthly from the Arizona Department of Transportation, has never been mentioned as a potential demolition target for a Sixth Street realignment.
“Now it’s like sitting outside of New Orleans a few years ago and making plans,” Schaper said.
Transportation officials initially unveiled the latest alignment plan to the citizens advisory committee in January, Jim Glock, department director, said.
The project also includes construction of a larger Tucson Drainage Channel that would ease flood events in the downtown and surrounding area, Glock said.
Plans call for Sixth Avenue to dip under the railroad crossing west of Ninth Avenue, eliminating frustrating delays for motorists as Union Pacific trains roll through downtown.
While the now-recommended alignment of Sixth Street will require the acquisition and demolition of properties previously not considered for the wrecker’s ball, it will avoid other properties inside the Tucson Arts Warehouse District such as the Steinfeld warehouse and Citizens warehouse to the south, Glock said.
Winnik said affected artists, merchants, and residents would hold a news conference at noon Saturday to discuss their concerns. A tour of the potentially impacted area is planned for later that day.
IF YOU GO
Downtown Links Citizens Advisory Committee meeting:
When: 4:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Tucson Convention Center Turquoise Room, 260 S. Church Ave.
IF YOU GO
Downtown artists, merchants and residents coalition event:
When: noon Saturday
Where: Originate Natural Building Materials Showroom, 526 N. Ninth Ave.