AZ Widening Project Dropped

Thu September 11, 2003 - National Edition

TUCSON, AZ (AP) A portion of the Catalina Highway will remain as it is after neighbors opposed a move to widen it.

In addition to the opposition, the Pima County Transportation Department decided to drop the widening project because a traffic study revealed that the road would not be as heavily used as once thought.

The county had originally planned to spend $8.3 million to widen the road to four lanes and create a center turning lane and bike lanes on a portion of the highway. Construction was scheduled to start this winter.

But earlier this year, eighteen property owners living along the road joined together in opposition and hired an attorney to represent them.

They wanted to save their land – much of it native desert – from being paved over.

"I’m thrilled to pieces," said Nancy Record, who has lived on three acres next to the highway for 35 years. She dreaded losing almost an acre to make room for the wider road.

"I didn’t want to lose my land,’"she said. "I’ve never seen traffic lining up by my house."

So far, approximately $1.7 million has been spent on design work for the project. Transportation officials say they are still considering adding the bike and center turning lanes.

But the smaller project must still be approved by the Pima County Board of Supervisors.