Thursday, November 29, 2007

Grant Road Widening

Tonight I went to a meeting at Councilwoman Nina Trasoff's office in order to learn more about the proposed widening of Grant Road. The future of Grant Road is of great concern to me because my rentals are nearby and I frequently sell houses near Grant Road.

Only three things are known at this point -- Grant Road will be six lanes from Oracle to Swan; the budget is $166 million; and construction is scheduled to begin in 2013.

I was hoping to learn which properties will be demolished, but I found that the purpose of the meeting was to get public input on priorities. The city says they will consider public opinion when determining which houses and businesses will be saved.

I have frequently heard people say that the houses on the north side of Grant will be demolished. According to Trasoff, this has not been decided. In fact, the road may curve several times in the interests of preserving the most important buildings and making the road more aesthetically pleasing. The final alignment will be selected by fall 2008.

People who own homes or businesses on or near Grant will be in limbo until the alignment is announced. Who wants to buy a house or start a business if it will be condemned in a few years? If Grant ends up in your back yard, will your property value decrease?

Participants in the meeting were very concerned about preserving the unique character of Grant Road. Support for small, locally-owned businesses was as strong as dislike of chains. Somebody must be supporting all those McDonald's and Walgreen's, but no one at the meeting would owe up to it.

Some people thought the houses along Grant should be saved. Having been inside many of those houses, I can say that because of the intense traffic fewer than 30 feet away, they are not relaxing places to be. Few people would buy a house on Grant with the intention of living in it. An investor may buy it to rent out, but rentals, especially those that can't command high rent because of an undesirable location, are notorious for lack of maintenance. A drive down Grant will confirm this. I don't think those houses are going to look any better when Grant Road is six lanes.

I have talked with a few clients about converting a cute old Grant Road house to commercial use. It seems like a good idea, but because the lots are so small, most houses can not meet city requirements for business ingress, egress and parking.

Grant Road is not pedestrian friendly. It is already too wide to walk across easily, and the noisy, speeding cars are tranquility killers. The city planners told us that walls are not the answer. They may block some of the noise on one side of the street, but it just bounces over to the other side. With walls on both sides, we have the echo corridors that make Furnix, that inferno two hours to the north, so oppressive.

Rubberized asphalt is proposed for the sections of Grant where the houses will remain. This doesn't mitigate the noise and pollution of trucks, busses and motorcycles, but it will cut down on the tire noise of most cars.

Other concerns were the need for better drainage, shorter waits at the lights, making it easier to turn left, buried utiliies, landscaping, and enhancement and creation of parks.

The city planners say preservation of Bobo's Restaurant at Country Club and Grant always shows up on citizens' lists of concerns. I've never been to Bobo's, so I can't vouch for the food, but its fans do seem to be legion, given the traffic jams of cars trying to turn into their parking lot.

To learn more about the planning process for the Grant Road widening, go to If you want to offer your two cents, attend one of the planning meetings to be held at the Tucson Association of Realtors, 2445 N Tucson Boulevard, from 6:00 to 8:30 PM on January 14, 16 and 17.

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