A major interstate closure between Tucson and Benson overnight on March 8 will force drivers to alter travel plans or prepare for a 67-mile detour, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.
Approximately 30 miles east of downtown Tucson, Interstate 10 will be closed in both directions from 9 p.m. Friday, March 8 until 6 a.m. Saturday, March 9 for the removal of the old Pantano Union Pacific Railroad Bridge.
During the demolition, motorists will be guided by signs through a 67-mile detour around the I-10 closure, which is between State Route 83 east of Tucson (Exit 281) and SR 90 west of Benson (Exit 302). Drivers can expect up to two hours of additional travel time. ADOT strongly advises avoiding this segment of I-10 during the closure.
By removing the Pantano Union Pacific Railroad Bridge, most commercial trucks will be able to travel on I-10 through the project area. The existing bridge is too low for many of today’s taller trucks, which are currently required to take a detour using state routes 83, 82 and 90.
“The project will allow more efficient travel and save money for the consumer through trucking cost reductions,” said Tucson District Engineer Rod Lane. “In addition, the Union Pacific Railroad Bridge is no longer needed because the railroad company has moved its tracks and the bridge is no longer in use.”
In order to prepare for the bridge removal later that night, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on March 8, there will be lane closures on eastbound and westbound I-10 in the area of the Union Pacific Railroad Bridge. The speed limit will be reduced and one lane will remain open in each direction.
Detour for eastbound I-10
Eastbound I-10 traffic will detour to SR 83 (Exit 281), travel south to SR 82 in Sonoita, turn left (east) on SR 82 to the SR 90 intersection, turn left (west) onto SR 90 and follow signs to reconnect with I-10 near Benson (Exit 302).
Detour for westbound I-10
Westbound I-10 traffic will detour from the interstate at SR 90 (Exit 302), travel east to the SR 82 intersection, turn right (west) on SR 82 and travel to SR 83 in Sonoita, turn right (north) on SR 83 to reconnect with I-10 at Exit 281.
For those traveling that night, please note the following 24-hour fuel station locations:
I-10 and SR 90 junction
SR 90 and SR 82 junction
Colossal Cave Road/Wentworth Road (Exit 279) (Note: This is the last gas station on eastbound I-10 before the detour onto SR 83.)
SR 82 and SR 83 junction (Note: A store with fuel pumps is located in this area; the store will be closed, but the fuel pumps are available 24 hours for credit card purchases.)
The Union Pacific Railroad Bridge removal is part of a $17.2 million improvement project, which is located about one and a half miles west of the new Marsh Station traffic interchange, which was completed in 2011 and allows the safe passage of most commercial trucks through the area. The project also includes the following features:
Construction of two new bridges at Cienega Creek. The new bridges will be higher than the existing bridges to ensure that the highway is not impacted by water flowing in Cienega Creek during heavy rains.
Bank protection for Cienega Creek. The construction includes a new retaining wall, new drainage and safety features, and salvaging and replanting the existing natural landscaping.
Reconstruction and realignment of the westbound lanes of I-10 and reconstruction of the eastbound lanes of I-10. Road realignment will allow for the construction of a widened median that will enhance safety and lessen traffic impacts when the project is complete.
The project schedule is subject to change due to a variety of reasons, including weather, availability of materials, and mechanical difficulties. ADOT advises drivers to proceed through or near work zones with caution, slow down, and be alert for construction equipment and personnel.