City of Tucson (courtesy photo)
City of Tucson (courtesy photo)

Tucson Mayor Council voted unanimous approval to proceed with the Broadway Widening Project Tuesday evening. The vote was not a final acceptance of the project baseline alignment but an approval to proceed with the integrated planning that will now be able to be done by the City Transportation, Planning & Development, the City Real Estate Department and the Regional Transportation Association (RTA).

A Citizen Task Force has been meeting for over two years, 38 meetings in total,  1,500 volunteered hours, to give input to the Mayor and Council on recommendations and were thanked by council and the audience for having brought the project this far.

Now, the City has the ability to proceed with negotiations with the property owners who have been so patient for such a long drawn out process, lasting 30 years for many.

Some expressed concerns over the latest changes known as the “Start Small” alignment that had come about in the first quarter of this year and was approval by the Citizen’s Task Force after opponents had gone home. Many felt it had been a ‘bait & switch’ leaving the City without the promised amenities that had been voter approved in 2006.

Paul Rosado, CCIM, a property owner along Broadway spoke at the public session to explain, “Tucson deserves a Broadway corridor with multi-modal transportation capacity not only for today, but that will take us far into the future. One of the primary things site selectors look for in a community, second only to education, is the infrastructure of the city. Using Phoenix or Denver as analogous to Tucson is a big mistake, those communities have multi-freeway systems, something Tucson elected not to do 30-years ago.” For these reasons the Broadway corridor has be functional and should have the amenities we were promised originally.”

“The mid-century architecture along Broadway may be nostalgic for some growing up here, but we have better mid-century architecture than these buildings in Tucson,” Rosado continued. “This portion of Broadway was for many of us growing up here, just another suburban neighborhood; those days are gone, it is now a blighted area in desperate need of revitalization,” said Rosado.

“Businesses along this 2-mile stretch are vacant and boarded up as they have been for years, so there is no reason for people to go there now,” said Rosado. “Whatever the City decides, they cannot ask the business owners to solve the parking problems that going narrow will cause or ask business owners to work out shared parking among themselves. It is the businesses that are victims here; we’re not the cause of the problems,” Rosado concluded.

So the Broadway widening project is now in the hands of Tucson City officials to finalize the alignment baseline design and proceed through the legal, financial and engineering process, as Mayor Rothschild summarized in the end. There seemed to be a great relief among a fairly crowded room full of people who stayed at the meeting four hours and waited until 9:30 p.m. to hear the vote proceed.