City Council Gets an Earfull Regarding Broadway Widening

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Driving at night on Broadway Boulevard
  • Driving at night on Broadway Boulevard

At the April 5 monthly meeting of the Tucson City Council, the public had an opportunity to comment on the 30 percent design plans for the widening of Broadway Boulevard from Country Club to Euclid Avenues. Since a large crowd was expected, the venue was changed to the Pima County Supervisors meeting hall at 130 W. Congress Street—there was still standing room only at one point.

The usual mundane business of the council took about 45 minutes, then the show began. Mayor Jonathan Rothschild held up two stacks of speaker requests of equal size, one in each hand, and said that the community appeared to be evenly divided on the issue..

Before the call to the audience began, Project Engineer Beth Abramovitz, made a presentation detailing the history of the project, and addressing some of the objections received through comment cards and the project website. She noted that most of the negative comments were against the project in its entirety rather than specific aspects of the 30 percent design plan.

The members of the public who spoke also argued either for or against the project as a whole rather than specifics of the plan.

The audience as a whole seemed to be composed of somewhat more people against the project than those in favor, though that may be just how it appeared. Those against the project came complete with tee shirts, wristbands, and signs which were deployed every now and then. Those in favor had no such props.

After Abramovitz completed her presentation, Councilman Steve Kozachik gave a brief but scathing anti-project speech ending with the odd statement, “So we’re spending 74 million dollars so people can get out of town one minute faster 20 years from now, makes absolutely no sense.” The statement is odd because it followed Abramovitz explaining that the one-minute-in-20-years figure was based on a projection of a 22 percent increase in traffic volume over that 20 year time period. She added that she could not estimate the travel time 20 years from now because the software could not calculate a rate for traffic that did not move at all.

The negative side had one point that was brought up consistently among the the speakers. They claimed, some citing census data, that there has been no increase in population or traffic, so the project is not necessary and a destructive waste. The positive side argued that growth and increased traffic will happen, the project is part of the voter approved Regional Transportation Authority, and that the 30 percent plan is already a compromise and should proceed. The negative side countered that the RTA has provisions for altering or canceling projects that are based on changing conditions or erroneous data, and the alleged zero percent increase in traffic qualifies as one of those.

The council will vote on whether or not to approve the plan at this 30 percent level of design completion.

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