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Driver says new Aerospace Parkway too dangerous

Posted at 5:46 PM, Apr 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-22 22:54:10-04
Mark Bowles says he drives Aerospace Parkway every day and when it first opened to drivers in December, he started noticing a lot of skid marks.
 
Then on Monday, he drove by a motorcycle accident that seriously injured the rider.
 
"That just made my stomach sink," said Bowles. "It's like 'why did we design a road that was almost destined for disaster?'" 
 
The new $12.7 million Aerospace Parkway replaces Hughes Access Road as a corridor mainly used by Raytheon employees. The purpose of moving the road was to create a buffer zone for Raytheon. 
 
The road was dedicated in a ribbon cutting ceremony in December, among much fanfare from local and state leaders. 
 
But Bowles says a sharp curve in the road is essentially a "death trap." 
 
The former Hughes Access Road had a wide sweeping curve as it turned into Alvernon Way. In comparison, Bowles says the sharp, hairpin curve on Hughes Access Road is much more dangerous. Especially because he says the speed limit drops drastically from 50 mph to 30. 
 
"For those who drive every day, you know it's coming," he said. "But the real problem is if someone coming down a 50 mile per hour road, brand new road, and hits that corner and [they're] not aware of it."
 
Aerospace Parkway is part of a long term plan to develop the area south of Raytheon and the Tucson International Airport into a high tech, manufacturing corridor.

A county spokesperson says eventually, Aerospace Parkway will be extended to the east. A wide sweeping curve like the one on Hughes Access Road would have required substantial realignment.
 
The current design will minimize what the county calls "throwaway costs" while reconstructing what will eventually be an intersection at Alvernon Way and Aerospace Parkway in the future.
 
But it may be several years before that happens. The county says ADOT will begin environmental studies on the project next year. 
 
"It's good that we have this improved road, it's just sad that they didn't put a safe turn in down there for everyone to use," said Bowles. 
 
The county says toward the end of construction, they added rumble strips, street lighting, flashing signs and pavement markings to warn drivers about the curve. 
 
Bowles says the extra safety features do help, especially at night.