Some of the first work began this week on the 3.1-mile Metro light rail extension in Mesa, where crews are working on Main Street to find underground utilities.
The activity should only produce minor disruptions for now, Metro spokeswoman Hillary Foose said.
Drivers will find small sections where a lane of traffic is blocked, rather than an extended blockage.
“The crew moves around,” Foose said. “There are limited restrictions and limited traffic impacts,” she said.
The work is occurring from where the light rail line currently ends at Sycamore, to the new end-point that will be constructed east of Mesa Drive. Crews will spend several weeks drilling holes into the road to confirm that water, sewer, communication, gas and other underground lines are buried in the same place they’ve been drawn on construction documents. Crews should be in one location for about one hour.
Metro is holding back on any major projects until after July 4.
Mesa had asked the transit agency to focus only on light-duty work until after the Arizona Celebration of Freedom on June 29-30. The city wants to keep Main intact for the festival that draws tens of thousands of visitors to downtown Mesa.
“There won’t be any activity during the Celebration of Freedom, which is what we committed to do,” Foose said.
Construction will transform the streetscape soon after.
By early July, crews will tear out the center median and dig massive holes to relocate nine storm drain manholes spaced along the rail extension.
The work will begin at Robson in downtown and move east. Once crews reach the end of the line, they’ll shift to Sycamore and work east toward downtown.
Metro hasn’t established exact dates for each step of that process, but Foose said businesses will get advance notice as various construction activities approach.
Main Street will have at least one lane of traffic in each direction through most of the construction process. A limited number of overnight or weekend closures will be required at some stages of the work.
Mesa and Metro have developed a plan to minimize disruption in the downtown. One element of that requires Metro to perform the most intrusive construction projects when downtown is less active in the summer.
“We have a moratorium before the winter season begins,” Foose said. “We made a commitment for the business community that we would refrain from doing really heavy work.”
The $200 million extension is scheduled to open in fall 2015. It will add four new stations and a park-and-ride lot at Mesa Drive.
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