TUCSON - It's been thirty years in the making, but this project will hopefully be complete in 2018. Downtown Links is an improvement project, which will connect Aviation Hwy, Broadway, and I-10.
However, it's a tale of two downtowns. Some are relieved the congestion on Congress and Fourth Avenue will be alleviated, while others believe the demolition of historic buildings is an overwhelming loss for the community.
"The building is built in 1910. And it's on the historic registry for warehouses. I've been downtown for almost 18 years," said a building owner downtown whose building will be demolished.
The owner did not want to be identified and told News 4 the city is offering him 20 percent of his property value. In the meantime, he is searching for an affordable building downtown.
This downtown owner said the city originally told him his building would not be demolished. However, he received a memo in October of last year stating his building would be torn down for the project.
There is dispute over just how many buildings are going to be torn down for Downtown Links. The city has told News 4 10 to 17 buildings will be demolished, while this building owner says he believes it is closer to 50.
The city, however, is optimistic about the project. They are going to build key drainage infrastructure, in order to prevent flooding. They are also going to provide multi-modal connections for bicyclists and pedestrians. The city is even building an underpass on 6th Street and 9th Avenue, which will go underneath the railroad tracks.
Thirty-three thousand vehicles drive over the tracks on 6th Street and 9th Avenue every day. This particular intersection has the highest railroad fatality's in Arizona. The city is hoping the underpass will prevent accidents and also create a "quiet zone" for neighbors.
"We can establish a quiet zone. Marana has one. As trains go through the downtown they won't have blow their horns anymore. So for the most part we won't hear anymore horns Downtown," said Sam Credio, engineering and project manager for the City of Tucson.
The people who live in Iron Horse, a historic neighborhood in Tucson, have mixed feelings.
"It's torn down some pretty nice places . . . Like Matt Bevel's place and the warehouse next to it. . . The good thing is we might gain a little extra parcel in our Iron Horse Park. It may alleviate some of the traffic on Congress and Fourth," said Mik White, president of Iron Horse Neighborhood Association.
The city is now going into phase three of the Downtown Links project, which involves designing the area that runs from Church Avenue to Broadway Boulevard. Construction is said to start in 2016.