Grant Road makeover set to continue in Midtown Tucson

After decades of planning, the Tucson Transportation Department is ready to begin widening Grant Road between Swan Road and Sparkman Boulevard, just west of Dodge Boulevard.

On Monday, workers from Granite Construction Company will start on the job of widening the Midtown corridor to six lanes (joining with Grant’s six lanes road east of Swan Road). The $63.3 million project, which has an estimated completion date of October 2026, will include landscaped medians, five-foot bike lanes, wide sidewalks, public art and new bus pullouts, along with other features.

“It’s always a struggle during construction,” said Tucson Transportation Department Project Manager Bob Roggenthen. “But afterwards, it’s a good thing.”

Grant Road commuters might not see much disruption during the first nine months. Workers are initially scheduled to work overnight between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. as they relocate Tucson Water lines, and will try to cover up their trench work during the day, according to Roggenthen.

“Our first focus will be Tucson Water’s distribution line that goes through the entire project and so they’ll be opening up a trench and putting that ductile iron pipe in the ground for water and then they’ll be trying to close up the trench that same night so that you get it ready for traffic the next day,” Roggenthen said.

Preliminary work has been underway for years, with the city acquiring real estate and demolishing buildings in the corridor, especially along the stretch east of Alvernon Road, while Tucson Electric Power erected massive new power poles.

The launch of construction on Monday has been a long time coming. The project was included in the list of projects approved by voters in the 2006 Regional Transportation Authority election that established a countywide half-cent sales tax for 20 years to pay for major roadway projects, transit improvements and other transportation-related spending.

This upcoming project is considered phases 3 and 4 of the Grant Road corridor work.

In phases 1 and 2, RTA funding paid for widening of Grant Road to six lanes between Park Avenue and Oracle Road.

Two more phases of the project, which would expand Grant Road to six lanes between Park Avenue and Sparkman Boulevard, remain in the planning stages, with a $100 million rough estimate of cost, evenly split between acquiring property and construction. RTA officials have told city staff the agency still expects to be able to fund the final stretch, so “we are slightly optimistic that there’ll be money” for the remainder of the Grant Road work, according to Roggenthen.

Officials from various Pima County jurisdictions are now working out a plan for RTA Next, which would be a 20-year expansion of the tax with new projects, but city of Tucson officials, including City Manager Mike Ortega and Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, have said the city should explore leaving the RTA and pushing to pass a citywide sales tax instead.