Houghton Road project update – September 2021

The 13-mile Houghton Road widening project is divided into several segments between East Tanque Verde Road and Interstate 10. The project underway now will widen South Houghton Road to six lanes from East Mary Ann Cleveland Way to East Valencia Road, with multi-use improvements throughout the two-mile project.

The City of Tucson awarded Borderland Construction Co. the contract for the work on this segment, which is more than halfway complete.

Tucson Department of Transportation and Mobility project managers Michael Marietti and Austin Wesnitzer provided the following project update about the desert parkway construction project.

Project/phase start:

September 2020

What has been done so far?

After the initial work to ready the area for construction, including removing noxious vegetation and moving or updating utility lines, Borderland began work on the west side of the roadway. In addition to widening the road, major project components included adding drainage, grading the new road surface and removing some of the existing road surface. The new road is higher than the old surface to accommodate reinforced drainage culverts to direct water under the roadway, and feature catch basins to channel stormwater and reduce flooding.

Additional safety measures were added, such as pedestrian handrails, lighting, and access ramps compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Sidewalks have been added at the Rita Road intersection, and concrete driveways were constructed for local access from the road.

Then, traffic from north- and southbound lanes was moved to the new western section of roadway while crews continue to work on the eastern side of the project to continue much of the work mentioned above.

What’s happening this month?

The contractor crews are now preparing the east side of the road with cement-treated soil and the primary layer of paving material. This will precede asphalt paving in late September or early October.

New six-foot-wide concrete sidewalks will be finished along the west side of the desert parkway as gaps are filled in. New lighting and light poles are being installed to improve safety, which will now extend over the new roadway. Tucson Electric Power Co. will be installing higher poles to raise power lines to avoid the new city roadway light poles, 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 all the concrete sidewalks are fully installed, the landscaping work will enter its final phase. The roadway landscape will feature native desert species supported by irrigation systems and median water harvesting basins.

The public art piece will be installed in the coming months near the intersection of Houghton and East Jumping Cholla Drive.

When the final pavement is applied, it will be state-of-the-art. Asphalt will be mixed with aramid fibers, which are also used in body armor, flame-resistant clothing and thermoplastic pipes. The combination will work to lengthen the life of the asphalt.

Another of the final steps includes paving the multi-use pathway along the east side of this project from East Valencia Road to East Mary Ann Cleveland Way. This will establish access to The Chuck Huckelberry Loop from the south side of the railroad tracks.

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

Estimated project/phase completion:

Early 2022