January 26, 2012
The Arizona Department of Transportation, in cooperation with the Town of Florence, will begin a two-week study and trial closure of a small segment of northbound Business State Route 79 at the intersection of SR 79 south of Florence beginning Wednesday (February 1). The purpose of the trial closure is to evaluate a possible alternative that will enhance safety at the intersection of State Routes 79 and 79B.
During the two-week trial closure, which will end February 15, motorists traveling northbound on SR 79 into Florence will be temporarily rerouted to make a left turn on Butte Avenue to access SR 287 and downtown Florence via Main Street. State Route 79B will be reopened on Thursday morning (February 16).
A map of the detour can be viewed online.
Previously announced trial closure plans
The initial plans for this trial study included a five-week closure that would have rerouted traffic to make a left turn at Florence Heights Drive to access Main Street and SR 287. ADOT decided to change the plans in response to various concerns that were expressed at the Florence Town Council and Florence Unified School District public meetings about the condition and alignment of Florence Heights Drive. The project team also decided to reduce the duration of the trial study from five weeks to two weeks in order to reopen northbound SR 79B as soon as possible for Florence residents and area commuters.
In 2010, ADOT evaluated three roadway alternatives based on design, safety, construction cost, constructability and public input. After further evaluation, ADOT developed a fourth alternative in fall 2011 to enhance safety and improve traffic flow at the SR 79 and 79B intersection.
The fourth alternative uses existing roadways, would require no new major construction and would avoid tribal concerns over culturally sensitive land. The small segment of roadway that connects northbound SR 79 to northbound SR 79B (access to downtown Florence and Coolidge) would be closed, possibly permanently eliminating the SR 79 and 79B crossing south of Florence.
In addition to the temporary closure next month, traffic counters are scheduled to be placed on side streets and pedestrian crosswalks to count and study the flow of traffic during the two-week trial. Data collected from the traffic study and input from the public will be evaluated to determine if a permanent closure of 79B is a feasible option.
Near the completion of the two-week closure, a survey will be mailed to area residents, businesses and schools. Recipients are highly encouraged to complete and submit the survey so that the public's input can be included in the study's documentation, and factored in the final decision-making process of a permanent closure. The survey will also be available to complete online in mid-February.
If you would like to provide your comments before the survey is mailed, please contact the ADOT Outreach Team: 2540 N. Tucson Blvd. Tucson, AZ 85716; phone: 520.327.6077; fax: 520.327.4687; email.
View more information about the project.