It wasn’t so many years ago La Cañada was but a dusty, two-lane road leading out of Tucson and into the rural environs of horse country and perhaps a few scattered guest ranches.
The War was over and the Boomers were in diapers. Tucson was what Silver City, N.M., is today, a college town with ample space for such exhilarating activities as breathing in clear, desert air. A drive out of town probably took about 10 minutes, max, and rural residents were as common as city slickers.
Of course I was not around yet, but the stories abound of what it was like up here in the great Northwest of town in the 1950s and early 1960s. La Cañada Drive was mostly dirt and it was the residents, who lived along this straight-line trail, who finally had to pony up the money needed to fully pave the road.
Fast forward nearly a half-century later, and our two-lane road gives way to a four-lane highway, with sidewalks, major drainage and an equestrian trail for added beauty. Oh, but minimal sound mitigation walls because they are really far too expensive and our area does not warrant the added cost since the noise level is within tolerable range; yeah, right.
We have been hearing threats about the widening of La Cañada for years, especially since Oro Valley came into existence with their high density zoning; but hey, no property tax, so the town had to come up with some way to make ends meet. Thanks kindly, OV.
Anyway, imagine our surprise when the work actually began to take shape a couple of summers ago, when large, black pipes were dumped not far from our house. The first stage of the project began, water lines nudged about and utility poles replaced or moved.
And then it really began in late 2009 and early 2010, the bulldozers came in and took out the small islands of mesquite and palo verde trees that dotted the western and eastern sides of the road. This “all-weather road” also has to have the washes enlarged and built up so the added rain runoff from the highway can be handled by our once-sleepy, little streams.
Those souls who once had some land between their backyards and the small washes are now looking at large canals outside their kitchen windows, or from a sunny seat besides their swimming pool.
The traffic noise has been replaced by the incessant beeping of every known construction vehicle backing up to take on water, dirt, and cement barriers, or to take out a tree or old pipeline. It is a bit nice to not have so much traffic along the road at night, due to the construction; I mean, you can actually hear the birds and the horses whiney throughout the neighborhood, especially after a good rain.
We suffered a bit of a setback when an overzealous driver in a bulldozer took out more of a hackberry bush than was needed, and then proceeded to take out our oleanders and the drip system. The latter has been replaced, though not working all that well, but we haven’t heard squat about our oleanders. If the powers-that-be are reading this, we would be really happy with a couple of obscenely large boulders to replace our beloved oleanders that we spent 11 years nursing as a barrier to a future, widened road.
You see, most of those who just zip through the road construction need to understand, there really are humans who live in the houses lining this mammoth, snake-like project, yellow blinking eyes for our added pleasure. And there is a reason why the speed limit is an annoying 25 mph, to keep the road crews from going home in body bags and to help keep the billowing clouds of dust out of our humble abodes.
Yes, it is true the widening of La Cañada Drive was inevitable; especially with the ever-increasing traffic and mayhem that has been oozing its way out from Tucson. But please understand the sacrifice we have taken on as a result of this nonsense. Our rural setting is being rudely replaced by urban reality, and it wasn’t our fault. Many people have lived out here since Tucson was a mere 50,000. But now everyone wants convenience close by and thus we are now a suburb, not horse country.
And yes, we appreciate the equestrian trail, but a lot of good it will do since most people drive like they are being chased by demons.