Until Tuesday, a massive waterline reconstruction project stood to disrupt traffic near Tempe Marketplace during the coming Christmas shopping season. But negotiations between the city, its counterparts in Phoenix, which owns the pipe, and the popular retail plaza have pushed back the work until Dec. 28.
“Good plan, but it was bad timing at the wrong location,” Tempe assistant city manager Jeff Kulaga said.
Still, for four months, Marketplace’s tenants and patrons will have to endure the restriction of Rio Salado Parkway, along the shopping center’s southern edge, to one lane in both directions.
Also, there will be no left turns northbound or southbound onto McClintock Drive, which runs along the west side.
Denise Hart, spokeswoman for Marketplace’s parent company, Vestar, said there was relief and gratitude that all sides could come to an agreement. And there was acceptance over the inevitability that business would be affected.
“This is something that has to be done,” Hart said.
Vestar plans to meet with its tenants next week for an informational meeting, Hart added. Also, the Web site www.tempemarketplace.com will eventually post advisories about alternate routes.
Although the repair job continues eastward, traffic for the nearby Mesa Riverview retail center should see little disruption. There will be a construction site on Eighth Street, about 800 feet west of Dobson Road, but city officials expect it won’t tie up the intersection.
Phoenix is repairing a large water transmission line, which runs west about 15 miles from a water treatment plant in north Mesa to near state Route 143 at University Drive.
This water main is a key component of Phoenix’s system, and that city’s officials said it can only be taken out of service during October through April — months when less water is used.
The line was built in 1975, and Phoenix officials say it is deteriorating faster than expected. Because the line is 30 feet underground at some points, repairs are unfeasible simply by digging along its length. “This isn’t like digging a drip system in your backyard,” Kulaga said.
What crews will do, officials said, is access the pipe via a series of “portals” measuring 50 feet long, 20 feet wide and up to 30 feet deep.
Once workers climb down the portals and enter the pipe, which is up to 7-1/2 feet in diameter, they will install a protective lining.
Between the portals closest to the shopping centers, two more will be installed on Rio Salado/Eighth Street at Siesta Lane and Evergreen Road.
The entire reconstruction project is expected take up to cost as much as $120 million, Kulaga said.
Some details have yet to be worked out between the parties, but Kulaga was confident enough to declare: “And we lived happily ever after.”