Momentum for the major improvements to the Houghton Road Corridor continues as construction has started on the two new bridge structures over the Union Pacific Railroad.  The funding partners for the project consist of the Federal Highway Administration, the Regional Transportation Authority, Pima County and the City of Tucson. The unique project will be phased as to allow no disruptions to the community’s daily commutes along Houghton Road.

The first phase will be to construct a new bridge structure over the Union Pacific Railroad with the second and final phase being the removal of the existing bridge and constructing another bridge structure in its place. The awarded low bid contractor, Pulice Construction Inc., has been given two years to complete the project and anticipates completing the project earlier than that.

Safety concerns for the existing bridge that was built in 1962 consist of non-compliant pedestrian walkways, limited sight visibility, roadway conditions, and weight restrictions, which forces larger vehicles to take longer routes to get to the businesses north of the Union Pacific Railroad. Both northbound and southbound travel lanes will have their own dedicated structures, each with three (3) travel lanes. The northbound structure will incorporate a multi-use path that is consistent with the rest of the corridor to help provide a safe and reliable system for both cyclists and pedestrians.  The southbound structure will incorporate a protected pedestrian pathway to allow safe access for pedestrians to travel over the Union Pacific Railroad.  Once the new structures are in place there will be no weight restrictions associated with the bridges and will allow for new routes to open up for the Houghton Road Corridor.

Special form liners and hand rails were considered to make sure that the artwork on the structures ties in with the existing artwork throughout the corridor.

Another unique aspect of the project is the existing bridge’s current residents – bats. As a part of the environmental clearance process, a biologist was hired to seal up the crevices and place special bat boxes on the existing bridge to give the tiny mammals a new place to roost.  Once the bat boxes have been cleared, they will be transferred to the new structure and the bats once again will have a new home to roost.

Upon completion of the project, the Houghton Corridor will be one phase closer to implementing a safe and reliable transit route from I-10 to Tanque Verde Road.

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