85-year-old Sixth Avenue underpass getting makeover - WNEM TV 5

85-year-old Sixth Avenue underpass getting makeover

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Sixth Avenue underpass is being closed from Tuesday through Thursday, perhaps through Friday, for some work to clean up graffiti and repaint the structure.

However, this is more than about just getting rid of some tagging.

You might call it underpass beautification.

The Sixth Avenue underpass connects downtown to the warehouse arts district, north of downtown.

Because of chipped paint and graffiti, you might not have noticed.

The Sixth Avenue underpass is architecturally pleasing.

Now that will be enhanced with paint colors.

Tucson Department of Transportation Program Coordinator Chris Leighton shows us some paint chips.

"Ash gray is the field which is very much a concrete color like Fourth Avenue (underpass). Then adobe will be some of the accents. Then things like the rails--the railings themselves will be this rosewood which is almost a rusty brown," he tells us.

"It's an historic structure with a lot of architectural detail, and if you don't have some different tones, it doesn't show up near as well and that's why people will notice actually what a pretty underpass it is," Leighton says.

The underpass that takes traffic under the railroad tracks at Sixth Avenue was built in 1929.

Like many structures of the period, it's not just flat, straight lines.

The paint primer went on Tuesday.

It will take work crews a few more days to finish painting.

The cost of the makeover is about $22,000.

Leighton says the money comes from the Highway User Revenue Fund and from economic development money out of the Tucson city manager's office.

Leighton tells us that when the underpasses are beautified, taggers don't paint graffiti as often.

We're told all the downtown underpasses eventually will have similar colors to make maintenance easier while making them warmer and more welcoming.

"It's not so much about appealing to the tourists as appealing to the locals. And if it does, the tourists will follow, which is what I think we're doing a good job of now. And then with the streetcar about to open, dressing things up is not a bad idea right now," Leighton says.

During the makeover, the Sixth Avenue underpass will be closed to traffic in both directions from 7:00 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon.

All the other underpasses into downtown are open.

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