By LARRY COPENHAVER
Motorists going to work Monday morning will find it easier to head south on Interstate 19 from westbound I-10.
Sometime tomorrow night, the Arizona Department of Transportation and Pulice Construction Inc. will open the highest ramp that stretches over the construction site where the two highways meet, said Ana Olivares, resident engineer for the $54.3 million freeway project.
The opening will be without fanfare. Crews will simply pick up barricades and let traffic through, Olivares said.
The flyover ramp opening signals that the project, which began in May 2002, is nearly complete, she said. The final segments of the interchange, dubbed The Crossing by officials, will open Aug. 8.
From 8 a.m. to noon Aug. 7, a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting are scheduled for the community, said Kathy Jirschele, a spokeswoman for the project.
“All of Tucson is invited, and the governor will be there,” she said. “We decided to have a huge celebration because almost everyone in the city has been impacted.”
Parking for the ceremony will be on a temporary lot just north of the interchange on South 12th Avenue, she said.
Twelfth Avenue and the ramp from northbound I-19 to eastbound I-10 will open after the celebration, Olivares said.
Construction is finished there and it will be the site of the opening ceremony.
As of Aug. 8, the project will have taken 782 days – right on schedule, Olivares said.
The plan was for 750 days, but the contractor was given a 32-day extension about 18 months ago because of complications with utility work near the West 29th Street underpass, Olivares said.
And during the two-year-plus construction period, there were no serious injuries for workers or drivers. For a while, ADOT posted a tow truck in the construction zone because there was no shoulder on the temporary roadways, she said.
If a vehicle became disabled, it was quickly towed away. The wrecker assisted 210 motorists, she said.
The team brought together for the job has mixed feelings now that it’s ending.
“This has been a long project, and we’re really excited it’s coming to an end,” Olivares said.
“But we at ADOT have been talking about how much we are going to miss each other.”
BY THE NUMBERS
782 days road work
10 new bridges
8 new ramps
SOURCES: ADOT and Pulice Construction
MAP: I-10/I-19 superexchange
The 12th Avenue portion, as well as access from northbound I-19 onto eastbound I-10, is to open Aug. 8, the day after the grand opening and ribbon cutting set for Aug. 7.
Total cost of the project:
Work began: May 2002
Source: Tucson Citizen