Interstate 19/Ajo Way improvements to begin this spring in Tucson

New interchange to improve traffic flow at busy I-19/State Route 86 junction

TUCSON – A project to improve traffic flow at Interstate 19/State Route 86 (Ajo Way) interchange will begin this spring in southwest Tucson, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Some utility work associated with the project will begin next week and lane restrictions along SR 86 are expected.

ADOT will reconstruct the existing “partial cloverleaf” interchange and replace it with a single-point urban traffic interchange that is designed to move large volumes of traffic safely and efficiently.

Nearly 100,000 vehicles travel daily through the current interchange, which was originally built in 1965, and traffic volumes are anticipated to continue to grow in the future.

The new interchange will feature a widened, new 218-foot-long Ajo Way bridge over I-19 with a single set of traffic signals controlling traffic entering and exiting the interstate rather than signals at multiple locations, in a design similar to the I-19 Valencia Road interchange.

The $40 million, two-year project will be the first of two related to the Ajo Way interchange and adjacent highways. In addition to the interchange improvements, the first phase will include:

  • Widening Ajo Way from two to three lanes in each direction between 16th Avenue (east of I-19) and the Santa Cruz River bridge (west of I-19).
  • Widening the southbound I-19 off-ramp at Irvington Road to provide an additional turn lane and increased capacity to prevent traffic from backing up onto the interstate.
  • Reconstructing Lamar Avenue west of I-19.
  • Repaving Elizabeth Drive and closing off access to Elizabeth Drive from 16th Avenue south of Ajo Way.

A second phase is anticipated to begin in fiscal year 2018, and major improvements include widening I-19 within the project area, two new bridge structures, new pavement from Irvington Road to north of Ajo Way and constructing a new ramp structure for the southbound I-19 Ajo Way on-ramp to cross over the Irvington Road off-ramp.

During this project, ADOT’s goal will be minimizing the impact on drivers as much as possible, including scheduling some nighttime work. Access to residential and commercial properties will be maintained.

ADOT works to inform the public about planned highway restrictions, but there is a possibility that unscheduled closures or restrictions may occur. Weather can also affect a project schedule. To stay up to date with the latest highway conditions around the state, visit the ADOT Traveler Information Center at az511.gov or call 5-1-1.

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