Tucson road project more than a decade in the making, complete

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- A road project that was planned by the Pima County Department of Transportation about eleven years ago is finally done.

After a set back and public concerns, traffic is flowing on the east side along Tanque Verde Road.

As the yellow tape was cut, the RTA, Pima County DOT, county lawmakers and the residents in the area expressed a sense of relief.

"Finally the opening of the Tanque Verde between Catalina Highway and Houghton project.  It was a combined effort," said Ray Carroll from the Pima County Board of Supervisors.  "Trying to make this a better road and I think they have succeeded in that."

"It took them awhile but it is a great improvement," said Tucson resident Clarence Stevens.

The project design was originally created in 2001, but the design wasn't helpful for residents with horse trailers and there wasn't enough funds, so the project was put on hold.

Then in 2006 the half cent sales tax allowed the RTA and Pima County DOT to come up with another plan.

"They all worked through the issues on the horse trailer and were able to come up with something that worked.  And that's what we ended up with, a four lane divided roadway, a beautiful roadway," said Pima County Department of Transportation Director Priscilla Cornelio.

As the roadway was being finished, the county added speed cameras without consent from the residents.  And that didn't sit too well with them or with Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll.

"We protested and petitioned against the speed cameras.  They were never turned on," said Stevens.

"I was informed of the speed cameras only after it was on its way up.  As soon as we did find out, we had that speed camera eliminated from the project," Carroll said.

The cameras are down now, however, that doesn't mean they're gone forever.

"We will go out and we'll measure the speeds and if people are speeding then we will look putting the cameras back but we will work with the neighborhood," Cornelio said.

To add to that, on all new road projects the county will add wiring for speed cameras.

Residents aren't happy about that idea either.

"To me it's ridiculous to have speed cameras anywhere or even the right turn cameras.  They're frustrating," Stevens said.

The county's reasoning, they say it's cheaper to do it now then to cut into the road later on.

According to Pima County DOT records, it cost more than $15 million to complete the almost two mile stretch of road on Tanque Verde between Catalina Highway and Houghton.