Tucson Buzzes about Valencia Road Extension
It was almost as if KE&G Construction had to have a conversation about “the birds and the bees” during their recent work on the Valencia Road extension from Houghton Road east to Old Spanish Trail.
“Before the start of the project, we discovered a large presence of bees in the new roadway corridor,” says Jim Olson, KE&G transportation division manager. “Further investigation revealed that the bees were privately owned and bred for experimentation and observation. They were a particular sub-species that was rare and extremely docile compared to typical bees indigenous to the area. As a result, our construction activities could not begin prior to the safe removal of the hive.”
There were no bird issues, but Olson’s construction team kept in close communication with a local rancher concerning his cattle. “No animal fence existed in the area before the start of construction since it was open-range State land,” he says. “This issue also affected construction activities as the county couldn't open the new roadway before completion of the fence.”
KE&G’s work consisted of the construction of two new lanes of Valencia Road, including a new roadway, drainage facilities, soil cement bank protection, and a new bridge over Pantano Wash. “The project increased access for emergency vehicles and other metropolitan services to an area previously only accessible by a two-lane winding road,” Olson says.
The Valencia Road project coincided with the construction of the new Mica Mountain High School on the west end, which required numerous interactions between KE&G, Vail School District, and the public.
Despite working around bees, cattle, and a new high school, Olson says the project’s biggest challenge came from Pantano Wash, which taught his team about water diversion and contingency planning.
The Valencia Road Extension has been a long time coming. “This project was designed in the 1990s and has been in the public works queue for 20 years,” Olson says. “Ultimately, the construction funding came from a private developer, Rocking K Development, with Pima County oversite and reimbursement, as well as additional funding coming from Vail School District to facilitate project expansion associated with the building of Mica Mountain High School.” A third party, PSOMAS, provided quality assurance, inspection, and engineering management.
Subcontractors on the project were Keller for the bridge drilled shafts; Olson Concrete Structures for drainage structures; Sentry Fence, Brown & White, and Dynamic Fence for fencing, handrail, guardrail, and bridge railing; and Brightview Landscaping.