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City officials to consider killing Grant 'suicide lane'

RANDY METCALF/Arizona Daily Wildcat
The "suicide lane" that runs from North Stone Avenue to North Swan Road on East Grant Road could be eliminated because of complaints from city residents. The Tucson Department of Transportation will discuss the lane's fate on Monday.
By Zach Colick
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, April 16, 2004
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Students who live near East Grant Road may be able to breathe a sigh of relief if a proposal to end the road's "suicide lane" is passed.

Monday, the Tucson Department of Transportation will consider whether to eliminate the reversible lane, which carries traffic westbound from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and eastbound from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and inhibits drivers from making left-hand turns during those times.

The department will look at the pros and cons of removing the reversible lane, said Jim Glock, director of the Department of Transportation.

Michael R. Graham, spokesman for the department, said it is considering the removal of the lane because it has received a number of complaints.

"Businesses have long complained that they've lost business during the total four-hour period," he said.

Michelle Rhodes, a physiological sciences senior, said she avoids using Grant altogether because of the frustrations that come with using the reversible lane.

"It's a hassle because if I have to make a left turn, I use side streets," Rhodes said. "I try to avoid Grant Road totally."

Rhodes said she would support the removal of the suicide lane.

"They should get rid of it because it's dangerous. People could die," she said. "It's tough for people from out of town who aren't used to it."

Other students said they find the suicide lane a nuisance and wish it would be phased out.

"(It's) very irritating because you can't turn left during rush hour," said Adam Carroll, a mechanical engineering sophomore. "It just inconveniences me, and I think it needs to go."

Graham warned that if the suicide lane is removed, there could be more traffic during rush hour because there will be one less lane.

Add 600-700 vehicles competing for space on the road, and suddenly there's more congestion on Grant, Graham said.

Ross Ribaudo, owner of Wags Family Restaurant, 4026 E. Grant Road, said the suicide lane has been a real inconvenience and safety concern for him and his customers since he opened Wags 17 years ago.

"My main concern is that the lane is extremely dangerous," Ribaudo said. "People have stopped using the road because they're afraid they might get hit. They want to avoid coming in here and Grant Road altogether because of this."

Ribaudo said he has seen cars swerving away from head-on collisions because they use the lanes right up until 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. when the times for the suicide lane ends.

"If your cell phone (time) is five minutes off, then you're screwed because people will use the lane until they no longer can," Ribaudo said.

Faye West, principal of Doolen Middle School, which sits at North Country Club and East Grant roads, said the suicide lane is a safety concern for her students. She hopes the kids at Doolen are safe when crossing the street.

"My concerns are that the kids are crossing where they shouldn't be," West said. "Anytime you have students or individuals not following guidelines, that's dangerous - no matter the time of morning or afternoon."

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