Downtown Links project update – August 2021

Downtown Links is one of 35 roadway corridor projects funded in the Regional Transportation Authority’s 20-year regional transportation plan approved by voters in 2006.

The project is managed by the City of Tucson and involves building a new road to extend Barraza-Aviation Parkway from its current terminus, at Broadway east of downtown, to connect with the St. Mary’s frontage road at Interstate 10. The first two project phases have been completed, and the third and final phase is currently under construction.

The city’s project manager, David Burbank, provided an update on the status of the project. The work includes reconstruction of the Arroyo Chico culvert from Sixth Avenue to 10th Avenue; construction of a new Sixth Street alignment, Sixth Avenue bridge and traffic underpass, Ninth Avenue Deck Plaza; and construction of the new four-lane roadway and a shared-use pathway from Sixth Street to Broadway Boulevard.

Project start:

August 2020

What work has been completed so far?

Large, twin-celled 10-by-12-foot box culverts have been installed underground to collect and move water through the Arroyo Chico drainageway to the Santa Cruz River. This will help prevent flooding in nearby neighborhoods and reduce the need for residents to obtain flood insurance for their properties. A new stormwater drainage system has been installed on the south side of the Stone Avenue underpass that also will prevent flooding in the former flood-prone spot.

Crews installed sewage bypasses to enable the construction work, have done a significant portion of water line work, and are actively working on constructing the new roadway throughout the project corridor.

Retaining walls have been built at Sixth Street and Church Avenue.

What’s happening this month?

The incredibly wet monsoon has been good news for the drought-stricken environment, but poses challenges for road construction, especially in the flood-prone portion of the city where this project is underway.

As a result of the remarkably wet weather, the pace of construction has slowed, Burbank said.

After each storm, “the work area needs to dry out, so we’re not able to get back on the project for a couple of days,” Burbank said. The rains have been frequent enough that “we just play it by ear anymore.”

The Stone Avenue/Toole Avenue/Franklin Street intersection has been closed for complete reconstruction and is expected to reopen within the week (pictured above).

Project managers then expect to close the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Seventh Street to continue the drainage work and install the large box culvert to carry water under the road. This is estimated to be on track for late August, though weather could continue to change the schedule of work.

Find the latest traffic alerts on the Downtown Links project webpage.

What’s to come?

The railroad that traverses over Sixth Avenue and Stone Avenue carries dozens of freight trains each day. To reconstruct the Sixth Avenue underpass and tie the roadway in with the new drainage and traffic scheme, the city must build a temporary rail detour so it can demolish and construct the new bridge at Sixth Avenue. The new bridge will accommodate the new box culverts and carry traffic on the new Barraza-Aviation Parkway.

The work will cause Sixth Street to close for more than a year, from late 2021 until mid-2023 when the entire project is complete.

The realignment of Sixth Street is underway, and Church Avenue is expected to be reopened in early October.

Estimated project completion:

The first half of 2023.