Downtown Links has its origins as an Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) project to extend Barraza -Aviation Parkway through downtown as a limited access highway. This approach would have resulted in a significant loss of properties in the Historic Warehouse District. In 1989, the City of Tucson offered to take over the project. Since then, more than 20 alternative routes and roadway alignments have been considered through an open and transparent public process.
In December 2006, the Downtown Links Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) approved a roadway alignment north of the Union Pacific railroad that connects with 6th Street at 7th Avenue. Four CAC meetings and two public meetings were held between January 1 and June 30, 2008 to discuss and comment on the planned roadway alignment. The CAC endorsed the Curved 6th Street Alignment (3.d.) and the Mayor and Council voted 6-0 to approve this alignment on July 8, 2008. The three major benefits of this alignment include:
- Railroad-related improvements - eliminating an at-grade crossing and creating a downtown no-whistle zone.
- New roadway drainage systems and a major reconstruction of the Tucson Arroyo - to remove parts of downtown and area neighborhoods from the 100-year flood plain.
- More multi-modal connections - construction of a new pedestrian and bike deck, connections to new and existing multi-use paths.