Houghton Road project update – April 2021

The Houghton Road improvement project, one of 35 roadway corridor projects funded in the Regional Transportation Authority’s 2006 voter-approved plan, spans 13 miles between East Tanque Verde Road and Interstate 10. As such, it was scheduled into several phases of construction.

The goal of the RTA project is to create a desert parkway by widening Houghton Road to four or six lanes depending on the section, with new bridges, bike lanes and sidewalks. The section under construction now is widening South Houghton Road to six lanes from East Mary Ann Cleveland Way to East Valencia Road, along with the multi-use improvements that will span the entire roadway.

City of Tucson Department of Transportation and Mobility’s project managers, Michael Marietti and Austin Wesnitzer, provided the following project update.

Project/phase start:

September 2020

What has been done so far?

The majority of the utility companies completed most of their work relocating lines and conduits, as well as other infrastructure improvements, before this project started construction.

The general contractor, Borderland Construction Co., removed a lot of the existing vegetation and split the project into two parts. Borderland has been working primarily along the west half for the last seven months. The roadway grade was raised to accommodate reinforced concrete drainage structures to quickly channel stormwater into an appropriate drainage way and help mitigate flooding.

New fiber optic lines have been installed to enhance local internet communications, especially to the existing Rita Road fire station, as well as to area schools. New widened asphalt driveways will make it easier to access local businesses.

What’s happening this month?

The contractor is now focusing on the east side of the construction work. Vehicular traffic, which was using temporary pavement on the east side, shifted last week to the new permanent asphalt pavement on the west side of the road.

New 6-foot-wide concrete sidewalks will soon be finished along the west side of the desert parkway. New lighting and light poles are being installed to improve safety, and the three primary Houghton Road intersections at East Valencia Road, East Rita Road and East Mary Ann Cleveland Way will have upgraded traffic signal systems to control new, dedicated right- and left-turn travel lanes.

What’s to come? 

Once the sidewalks are installed, the landscaping featuring native desert species with irrigation systems and water harvesting will begin in earnest. The public art piece will be set in place, as well.

Drivers can look forward to smooth asphalt and improved traffic flow. One of the last construction steps is applying the final asphalt pavement layer. For this project, asphalt will be mixed with aramid fibers (also used in body armor, flame-resistant clothing, thermoplastic pipes), which will work to lengthen the life of the asphalt. The project managers call it a “roadway of the future.”

Lastly, pavement marking, plus signing and striping will finish the job. 

Find more information about this phase and the overall, 13-mile Houghton Road project website.

Estimated project/phase completion:

Jan. 3, 2022