The eastern gateway to Downtown Tucson is becoming more welcoming. Ashton Contractors & Engineers is in the midst of a 20-month project to widen Broadway Boulevard. The $26.6 million project will not only improve the roadway for motorists but make biking and walking easier along the major thoroughfare.
Even the partners involved in the construction are taking advantage of the upgraded street. “Team Ashton and the City staff and consultant’s office are together in a historical house directly on the corridor with their front steps 10-feet from the new wider roadway,” Chris Rogers, president of Ashton, says. “This allows for quick access and decision making on the project.”
Groundbreaking for the project commenced in January 2020, and work is slated to occur in five phases. “The project will widen two miles of Broadway to six lanes between Country Club Road and Euclid Avenue with medians, five-foot-wide bike lanes with a two-foot-wide buffer lane, sidewalks, HAWK crossings, bus pullouts, landscaping, and public art,” Rogers says.
Rogers notes that the most challenging aspect of the project is installing more than 100,000 linear feet of underground storm drain, sewer, water, electrical, and irrigation. “Underground work is always challenging on a street project, especially when this road is over 100 years old, including portions of the sewer main.”
Ashton self performs portable plant work and recycles the existing asphalt from the old roadway to produce the storm drain shading material on-site, saving on trucking, disposal, and mining new aggregate. The company also approached the City Environmental Services to fill in an old landfill near downtown with the dirt spoils from the pipe and roadway excavation. “This was a win-win for both parties helping to accelerate the redevelopment of a vacant lot and also provide an efficient haul location for the project,” Rogers says.
Communication is essential to the success of the work. “The project has lots of interaction with the public since it has over 400 active businesses in the job and 1,500 emails receiving project updates,” Rogers says. “The City is very proactive when it comes to public relations and utilizes its own full-time staff, RTA Main Street Business Assistance Program, and Kaneen Communications. Ashton’s project team coordinates daily and weekly with these entities regarding upcoming traffic, business, pedestrian, and any public impacts.”
Ashton teamed with Southern Arizona Paving for the project, as both companies have the same ownership. “When this project is complete towards the end of 2021, Ashton will be celebrating 75 years in business based in Tucson,” Rogers says. “The remaining primary subcontractors are locally owned as well.” These firms are GRG Construction Company, P.A.C.E. Electrical Construction, Santa Rita Landscaping, National Barricade, Pavement Marking, Inc., and Pattison Engineering.