The new bridge going over the Pantano Wash is part of a roughly 12 million dollar project to relieve congestion at two of Tucson's busiest intersections.
Tucson Department of Transportation says each day about 54,000 cars drive through the spot where Grant, Tanque Verde and Kolb come together. That makes the spot Tucson's fourth busiest intersection. TDOT says the fifth busiest intersection is to the east: Tanque Verde and Sabino Canyon. (The first? Tanque Verde and Bear Canyon. TDOT says it exceeds 60,000 cars per day on average.)
The new Pantano bridge should help relieve both.
Now, drivers on Kolb need to use both intersections to reach Sabino Canyon Road.
The bridge will let Kolb traffic avoid the Grant intersection, and swing up to an intersection with Sabino Canyon enhanced to handle more traffic.
Planners expect the bridge to improve air quality, too, because the less time cars sit in traffic spewing pollution, the better.
Bridging Pantano to bypass traffic is something local road planners have been trying to achieve for a very long time.
Jim De Grood, Deputy Director of the Regional Transportation Authority, says, “We believe that with this particular improvement, we'll probably see about 200 hours of public traveler delay that is reduced on a daily basis."
Some people have worried about what will happen if a share of all the traffic and noise from busy streets, like Kolb and Tanque Verde, get diverted along a new road and closer to their homes.
Joe Runnion lives in one of those neighborhoods. He says, “First instinct is, let's fight it. We went to a few meetings, talked with city leaders and they went ahead and addressed our concerns and they did change the plans a couple of times."
While some neighbors still worry about noise when the traffic starts shifting, Joe Runnion thinks the revised project will be good for the area.
The work should be done in late February.