Traffic stopper - Tucson Local Media: News

Traffic stopper

Storm creates weeklong problems along Ina Road

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Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 3:00 am

A storm that “came out of nowhere” last week shut down businesses for days, damaged cars and landscaping, and left people stranded.

The 15-minute microburst on Aug. 16 hit in the early evening, as motorists were headed home and businesses were preparing to close for the day.

Mitch Olive was one of those business owners left stranded. He and one staff member at the State Farm Insurance Agency in the 4200 block of Ina Road weren’t allowed to leave the building because of the damage.

The storm’s intense winds knocked down 18 power poles along Ina Road, leaving live power lines that created a public safety issue at Olive’s business and those of his neighbors.

“The storm came out of nowhere,” said Olive. “The power lines were knocked down right in our parking lot. They were laying across both exits.”

Tucson Electric Power staff worked for several hours to clear the lines.

“They worked quickly and efficiently,” Olive noted.

Olive was allowed to finally leave around 8:30 p.m., more than four hours after the storm hit. However, since the power to his building was shut off, Olive was forced to close his business for the rest of the week.

Olive said he and the rest of the businesses in the plaza were able to re-open Friday morning.

Tim Brunenkant, spokesman for the Marana Police Department, said the business center on the 4200 block of Ina had the most problems, and it took a lot more time to restore power to the complex.

TEP crews worked day and night between Tuesday and Friday last week to repair the damage along Ina Road.

Traffic on Ina was restricted throughout the week, and multiple intersections were shut down.

While no one was injured in the storm or during the repair process, Brunenkant said about 25 citations were issued to motorists who ignored the “no left turn” signs.

By Friday, the lane restrictions were lifted, and all intersections were fully operational that afternoon.

On Monday, Joe Barrios, a TEP spokesman, said almost all major damage had been repaired by Friday. Crews are still working on underground lines and cleaning up the east side of Thornydale Road. An estimated 5,000 Marana homes were without power immediately after the storm.

All remaining issues are minor concerns, Barrios said.

Barrios said TEP did not keep a running tab on how much all the damage will cost to repair.

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