Intersection of Grande and W Congress
This intersection has been of extreme concern for residents bordering the intersection, and lining both Congress and Grande in all four directions for the following reasons:
- Traffic volume is unsafe: Traffic volume for the intersection has far exceeded the volume that this outdated and inefficient intersection was built for. Residents have expressed a desire for both a smoother-functioning intersection, and one that discourages high traffic volume. Ambulances frequently use Congress to get to St Mary's Hospital, and commuters use the intersection to travel to businesses and offices on Grande, St. Mary's Rd, and Anklam Rd. Bicyclists frequently use west Congress to get to Sentinel Peak Rd.
Neighbors anticipate traffic increasing significantly in the near future, due to business changes, development along Congress, and housing already slated to be built in the Mercado San Agustin.. An increase in housing will also bring more pedestrians and bicycles onto Congress, where dangerous conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists already exist.
- Speeding on Congress has increased: West Congress was re-paved recently, which neighbors believe has led to a higher traffic volume, especially cars and motorcycles with loud engines speeding, and possibly even drag racing, from the intersection to the hairpin turn where Congress turns into Silverbell. Vehicles with loud engines were an occasional nuisance prior to the re-paving, but now they are a daily occurrence. Drag racing was not something neighbors observed prior to the re-paving. Residents would like to find creative and effective traffic mitigation strategies to reduce these dangers.
- Drive-thru exit at the liquor store poses extreme hazard: The drive-thru window for Menlo Park Liquors (southwest corner) exits into the right-turn lane of eastbound Congress St. This exit is about 5 feet from where Grande actually intersects Congress. This exit presents an extremely high danger to pedestrians and other drivers, as many exiting the drive-thru cross the eastbound lanes at high speed in order to head westbound on Congress. Further, the liquor store itself blocks the driver's view of west Congress as they exit the drive-thru lane, so that pedestrians walking to that corner and cars eastbound on Congress in the right-turn lane, have a high risk of being hit by cars exiting the drive-thru.
Drivers access the drive-thru by turning into the empty lot from eastbound Congress or from the southbound OR northbound lanes on Grande. This presents a safety hazard because there are no clearly marked traffic lanes or directional arrows, making access to the drive-thru a bit of a free-for-all. (Neighbors also worry that customers purchasing alcohol while driving may increase the likelihood of intoxicated drivers in the neighborhood, but this is not something that intersection improvements can fix)
- City of Tucson unwilling to fund improvements: Within the past 10 years, Menlo Park residents approached the City about installing walk signals at the intersection, as many pedestrians use it to access nearby businesses and public transit. The City DOT advised neighbors that the intersection was outdated, and no funding was available to improve the intersection, including something as minor as the addition of walk signals. However, former Ward 1 Councilperson Regina Romero managed to get walk signals installed just prior to her taking office as Mayor. In light of this, it is difficult for neighbors to continue to believe City DOT's protestations that intersection improvements are not feasible.
Some neighbors have expressed a desire for left-turn signals on the traffic lights, in hopes that the left turn signals will decrease the number drivers running red lights to make a left turn.