The minor intersection just outside our neighborhood is being transformed into a jug-handle/dedicated right turn/4 lanes and a median strip extravaganza.
There's a mobile cement factory at one end of the project, and every single caution cone and paddle-on-a-base in the state of Arizona is lined up left and right of what used to be my street sign and a stop sign.
Now, that peaceful corner is a construction site
Yesterday, there were mounds of dirt 15 feet high at the peak lined up like mini-pyramids to my left.
Today, there's a dirt road. Granted, it's a nice dirt road, as far as dirt roads go, but it's still a dirt road.
At least now I can see the on-coming traffic from that side; those mounds made better doors than windows as my Bubba used to say.
This construction project has caused me to consider my relationship with Tucson, the place.
I love living on the less developed Northwest side of town. We're north of River Road, so that puts us outside of the Tucson city limits. Towns to the north and west of us have made noises about annexing our little corner of paradise (we have a nice big mall that pays taxes and doesn't send anyone to school) but there's never been any reason to change our unincorporated status.
For me, this has less to do with financial reasons than it does with my sense of place. I moved to Tucson, not to Marana or Oro Valley. Just as my 435 phone prefix was assumed in Tiburon (thanks for reminding me of this, Little Cuter), here I just need the last 2 digits of my zip code when a cashier needs it to update whatever it is they update. The first 3 are understood. I'm a Tucsonan. I belong.
Marana started out rural and is moving toward suburban. Oro Valley is vacation homes and planned communities and they're still arguing about whether or not to build a town park. There's not much of a sense of community to either town, as far as I can tell. But Tucson says cowboy boots and cacti and The U and single story adobe houses and palo verdes in native soil yards and 2 lane roads outside my neighborhood's pony wall.
This new, gigantic, well-paved, art bedecked causeway will be beautiful and functional but it will also be soulless. I already miss the scrub brush that was bladed one afternoon while I drove by helplessly. If I were able bodied I'd have pulled over with my tools and taken the poor destroyed plants home with me. I have never felt so damaged, so lost, so furious at my situation as I was that afternoon. I couldn't save them.
Once it is finished, I will have no worries about flooding to the east or potholes to the west. I will never have to stop as I turn south, and coming south my left turn will involve a series of bizarre maneuvers that are familiar to people who drive in New Jersey
This was how it was sold to us.... I kid you not.... have you ever driven in New Jersey? My sister says that the coroner designs their signage to keep business flowing.... but apparently we will be heading right to turn left and all I want you to know is that I will miss the tecoma on the corner. Its blooms let me know that summer had really arrived.
I'll be traveling on a suburban through-way. Although the quality of my ride will improve, and my tires will be grateful, I know that I'll be missing the pavement bleeding off into the unpaved shoulder. I'll appreciate the bike lane and the smoothness, but it will feel generic.
I'll be missing my funky desert outpost.