Drivers have a wider, safer U.S. 60 climbing east from Superior; a new bridge that will eliminate flooding closures on U.S. 95 near Yuma and a rehabilitated Virgin River Bridge No. 6 on Interstate 15 thanks to just some of the Arizona Department of Transportation projects completed this year in greater Arizona.
More is on the way in 2017, including widening the last section of state Route 260 between Interstate 17 and Cottonwood, and starting work on a bridge carrying state Route 347 over railroad tracks in Maricopa.
After months of regularly scheduled blasting closures, those using U.S. 60 between Superior and Globe now have an eastbound passing lane on the grade between Oak Flat and Devil's Canyon (mileposts 230 to 232). Other improvements along this stretch include a wider shoulder at Devil's Canyon and bridge improvements at Waterfall Canyon near milepost 229. The projects also removed overhanging rocks that have posed the danger of rock falling during heavy rain.
This work was part of $65 million in U.S. 60 improvements that also include ongoing work to convert the last remaining two-lane roadway segment between Phoenix and Superior into four-lane divided highway (mileposts 222-227 just west of Superior) and a project that installed LED lighting in the Queen Creek Tunnel at milepost 228.
Along I-15 in far northwestern Arizona, ADOT completed a $27 million rehabilitation of Virgin River Bridge No. 6 that replaced girders, decks and railings and widened the roadway at the bridge. This was the centerpiece of $50 million in upgrades that also included paving all 29 mi. (47 km) of I-15 in Arizona and repairing the decks of three other bridges in the Virgin River Gorge corridor.
Until late 2016, flash floods could cause closures of U.S. 95 at Fortuna Wash near Yuma — no small problem considering that the wash lies between the city and Yuma County's largest employer, Yuma Proving Ground. Today, motorists using this key trade route between the United States and Mexico, cross Fortuna Wash on a $9.3 million, 600-ft. (183 m) bridge. Final work on the bridge and this stretch of U.S. 95 will continue until spring.
Among other highlights in greater Arizona, ADOT completed a major project to improve mobility and safety along U.S. 89 through the Navajo Nation community of Cameron north of Flagstaff. The $36.7 million project replaced two bridges over the Little Colorado River, widened 4 mi. (6.4 km) of highway, added a roundabout at the junction with state Route 64, and installed sidewalks and underpasses.
On state Route 89 between Chino Valley and Interstate 40, ADOT completed a new $14.4 million bridge at Hell Canyon featuring 12-ft. (3.7 m) lanes and 10-ft. (3 m) shoulders to better accommodate oversize loads and commercial vehicles. Replacing a now-dismantled bridge built in 1954 that no longer met state and federal design standards for larger and heavier vehicles, the new structure is 665 ft. (202.7 m) long and has four spans to carry the load.
The $109 million in Loop 202 (Red Mountain Freeway) improvements between Loop 101 and Broadway Road were completed. This project added new travel lanes between Loop 101 and Gilbert Road; extended HOV lanes by 11 mi. (17.7 km) between Gilbert and Broadway Roads; and resurfaced the roadway with rubberized asphalt.
Crews completed a $74 million in Loop 101 (Pima Freeway) improvements project between Shea Boulevard and Loop 202 (Red Mountain Freeway) in the Scottsdale area. This project added new right lanes and paved 11 mi. of roadway with rubberized asphalt.
Loop 303 was widened to three lanes in each direction between Grand Avenue (U.S. 60) and Happy Valley Parkway in the northwest Valley. The $30 million project was wrapped up in 2016 with rubberized asphalt paving.
Preliminary construction for the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway began in September with improvements to the I-10/Loop 202 Santan Freeway interchange in the Ahwatukee area.
State Route 51 ramps to and from Black Mountain Boulevard were opened at the Loop 101 (Pima Freeway) interchange. ADOT teamed with the city of Phoenix on this $17.8 million project to improve access in the Desert Ridge area of northeast Phoenix.
ADOT's highlights for 2017 include:
• Begin construction of the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway. Work scheduled for the first half of 2017 includes setting foundations for some of the 40 bridges planned, widening eastbound lanes of Pecos Road to accommodate two-way traffic during construction, creating access roads near the freeway's future interchange with Interstate 10 in west Phoenix and creating drainage structures. This 22-mi. (35.4 km) direct link between the East Valley and West Valley will open by late 2019.
• Opening the south half of the Interstate 10/Loop 303 interchange in Goodyear by fall. The $63 million project, launched last February, will complete freeway-to-freeway ramps and extend Loop 303 south to Van Buren Street. Loop 303 traffic will then have direct connections to and from Cotton Lane south of I-10. The north half of the I-10/Loop 303 interchange opened to traffic in August 2014.
• Resurfacing an 11-mi. (17.7 km) stretch of Interstate 17 between 19th and Peoria avenues in Phoenix in spring 2017. Crews will add a new layer of smooth, durable rubberized asphalt along the Black Canyon Freeway when warmer spring weather provides the best conditions for the resurfacing work. Rubberized asphalt, which has been used on Valley freeways for several years, includes rubber from shredded recycled tires as part of the pavement's mixture.
• Completion of the new Bell Road/Grand Avenue interchange in Surprise by spring 2017. The $42 million project started last February. Crews opened the new bridge carrying Bell Road over Grand Avenue and the parallel BNSF Railway tracks on Nov. 22. New ramps connecting Grand Avenue to and from the Bell Road bridge are scheduled for completion in time for the Cactus League baseball season in late February.
• Installing Loop 202 (Santan Freeway) traffic-management technology between Ray and Broadway roads in Mesa. The project, scheduled to start by summer 2017, will add several overhead message signs, closed-circuit traffic cameras and traffic-flow sensors along the Santan Freeway. The technology allows ADOT to provide travelers with updated freeway conditions. A current ADOT Freeway Management System project along Loop 202 between Dobson and Ray roads is scheduled for completion in spring 2017.
• In spring 2017, work is to begin on a project widening 9 mi. (14.5 km) of SR 260 (mileposts 209-218) to modern four-lane divided highway from Interstate 17 west to Thousand Trails Road. This $62 million project also will install seven roundabouts at major cross streets.
• Late in 2017, ADOT plans to begin work on a $55 million project in Maricopa that will realign SR 347 between Desert Cedars Drive and Hathaway Avenue and create a bridge carrying the highway over Union Pacific railroad tracks where dozens of trains pass each day. A $15 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant and a $15 million local contribution have helped ADOT move forward sooner on this project than originally planned.
For more information, azdot.gov.