Bridges make essential connections in our lives. When they need repair, they can divert traffic and disrupt neighborhoods. One of the busiest bridges in Tucson had needed a replacement for a long timeand now a new bridge is on the way.

The bridge on 22nd Street is one of the fastest ways across the City of Tucson. It has carried traffic for 57 years. But all the traffic and all those years have worn down the bridge surface just like a piece of sandpaper.

The wear on this bridge prompted city transportation to set a weight limit. Anything heavier than 15 tons needs to take another route.

That makes it harder for kids to get to school.

School buses have to detour around the bridge because they are too heavy. The same goes for fire trucks and heavy cargo trucks.

Businesses like Vanessa Gallegos recycling operation have to cope with heavy trucks working through time-burning detours to reach her facility.

People in nearby neighborhoods complain bridge restrictions make their streets more congested and dangerous because heavy trucks sometimes detour through streets with homes and children, to avoid the bridge.

Willie Blake is a community activist who says, Its dangerous. Yes. Especially in the evening time,in the evening time when everybody gets off work. They come through the neighborhoods. They go to the bridge and they line up.

But a new bridge is in the works to drive away safety concerns and end the need for troublesome detours.

A year ago Federal Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg came to Tucson to help celebrate a $25 Million dollar grant for a new bridge and other nearby improvements. Along with City of Tucson and regional transportation funds the Federal money is enough to green light a project thats been pending for at least 18 years.

You can see details of the project at this link.

Now a contractors hired and negotiating final details before work begins. The Tucson Department of Transportation and Mobility says the bridge should be ready two and half to three years after work begins.

Willie Blake knows there will be more detours while the bridge is removed and replaced but it will be worth it to get a stronger, wider, safer bridge in place

And it’s been a lot of problems on that bridge. So I would say we got to get that bridge done. You know, let’s get it done now while the getting is good.