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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    I-10 project slows traffic

    The Arizona Department of Transportation’s plan to widen I-10 may decrease stop-and-go traffic upon completion, but the route to the UA will be full of detours during the three-and-a-half years of construction needed to finish the project.

    Yesterday morning, the first of the I-10 ramp closure became reality as freeway travelers found they could no longer exit at Prince Road. The project plans to widen the three lanes on the I-10 to four lanes from Prince Road to 29th Street in 1,180 days from the start date on Jan. 3, said Teresa Welborn, deputy public involvement director of the ADOT.

    “”The I-10 is one of the greatest travel corridors and we need to make sure we are optimizing it,”” Welborn said.

    The first of the traffic changes include a re-stripping of the north and southbound frontage roads between January and May in order to create three lanes instead of the current two, Welborn said. During this time there will be temporary closures of lanes and exits.

    The next move, which will last from June 2007 until spring 2010, includes closing off all the off-ramps between Prince Road and 29th Street, though the I-10 will still be used for travel.

    “”The I-10 will be more like an expressway,”” Welborn said. Drivers who do not need to get off at the closed exits can drive straight through.

    There is a chance that construction time could be less than projected. The project is a joint venture between Kiewit and Sundt companies, who said they could complete the project in 1,160 days, Welborn said.

    However, UA Parking and Transportation Services knows that is not soon enough.

    PTS has put together a number of “”travel reduction programs”” in an effort to get people off the road and reduce traffic congestion, cut back on pollution, and make the drive to the UA less stressful and more convenient, said David Heineking, associate director of operations for PTS.

    The latest of these programs is known as the vanpool. The service will organize full-time UA employees into a carpool that uses a van from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Heineking said.

    “”People don’t know that this service is available right now,”” Heineking said.

    The cost, which includes gas, parking for the van, maintenance, and rental, will cost each person $50 to $80 per month, depending on the number of people in the vanpool, he said.

    One of the people in the pool will be the driver, pending a background check of their driving record that will be done through the rental company, said Gayle Johnson, vanpool coordinator for the Pima Association of Governments.

    Despite thetiming, authorities said the idea was in the works before the I-10 closure announcement and does not depend on what happens with the I-10, Johnson said.

    “”We’d like for the program to keep on continuing long after the I-10 is finished,”” Johnson said.

    The vanpool program needs 8-10 people per van, and with only three people currently registered the program is off to a slow start, Heineking said.

    The Pima Association of Governments is attempting to help get the word out so UA full-time employees can get to work easier, Johnson said.

    UA Parking and Transportation services also has a number of other programs installed that should help people get around the I-10 closure, including offering 50 percent off the cost of a Sun Tran U-Pass, park and ride lots, the CatTran and new places to lock up bicycles, Heineking said.

    Bike enclosures are offered all over campus at the cost of $20 per year, the newest locations at the Second Street Garage and the Cherry Avenue Garage.

    Though many of the programs offered by UA Parking and Transportation Services have been around longer than the I-10 changes have been planned, they are attempting to make the services more available, Heineking said.

    “”The first goal is to lessen the number of vehicles on the streets and the second goal is to make travel to the university more convenient,”” Heineking said.

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