Crews are tackling a portion of SR 347 that’s widely used and in need of an upgrade.
Designed to improve traffic flow and safety, a project overseen by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and the Federal Highway Administration is making significant progress in Maricopa. Crews are tackling a portion of SR 347 that's widely used and in need of an upgrade.
"Maricopa is one of the fastest growing cities in Arizona," said Tom Herrmann, spokesman of ADOT. "The intersection of SR 347 [John Wayne Parkway] and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway is geographically about in the north/south center of the community.
"Railroad tracks that carry both Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak trains cross SR 347 just south of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. Trains cross the road more than 30 times daily, and that is expected to increase to about 60 times daily by 2040."
Designed to improve traffic flow and safety, a project overseen by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and the Federal Highway Administration is making significant progress in Maricopa. (ADOT photo)
Work on the project began in spring 2018, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. Planning for the project began before 2010 and involved considerable community input, beginning with a public scoping meeting in 2012, and additional gatherings in 2013 and 2014.
"Public meetings in 2016 and 2017 were standing-room only," said Herrmann. "We designed an alignment for SR 347 east of the current alignment, so we could perform the work on this overpass without disrupting traffic. The current alignment is further east, to avoid conflict with the local Amtrak station and an auto parts store."
The new alignment will veer to the east at Alterra Parkway, cross the railroad tracks and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and reconnect with the current Maricopa alignment at Hathaway Avenue.
After the bid was awarded on this project, the community held a groundbreaking in November 2017 to celebrate the award and the positive impact it would have on commute times in the area. Local leaders spoke about the work they have done dating back more than a decade, including meeting with national officials, to bring the project to construction.
Work on the project began in spring 2018, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. (ADOT photo)
Crews are building the project on a new alignment, eliminating restrictions on primary routes, with the exception of when the old and new routes are tied together in late 2019. Beginning in December 2018, the intersection of SR 347 and Honeycutt Road was closed for construction of the overpass, but short detours have been established and access to all local businesses has been maintained.
According to Herrmann, workers are primarily assigned daytime shifts.
"Because of the extreme desert heat in the summer, crews began work well before dawn and completed their shifts by noon or early afternoon to avoid the hottest times of the day. Current shifts begin about 7 a.m. and end in mid-afternoon."
The project is considered vital to the continued growth and prosperity of the community of Maricopa. It will improve traffic flow on SR 347, the primary north-south route.
Planning for the project began before 2010 and involved considerable community input, beginning with a public scoping meeting in 2012, and additional gatherings in 2013 and 2014. (ADOT photo)
The current alignment of SR 347 south of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway will see the addition of three cul-de-sacs. No traffic will cross the railroad tracks at the completion of the project. Honeycutt Avenue will be extended to connect with the new alignments of SR 347.
Herrmann noted that dealing with traffic, both trains and the travelling public, has been the biggest challenge for crews, who are continuing to work on construction of the overpass. Piers and pier caps are in place, and girders began to be placed in January.
Herrmann explained that crews are not so much reconstructing an existing roadway, but building a new roadway that will replace a congested section of SR 347. He also said much of the land south of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway was undeveloped and required only clearing and grubbing, as well as grading for the new road surface.
"There were several properties north of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway that were acquired for the project. Because of the overpass, we had to create a new route for northbound drivers on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway to reach northbound SR 347. That included building a new road [Plainview Street] connecting Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and Honeycutt Road. Construction of Plainview is complete.
"The new alignment also will require the addition of three cul-de-sacs along the old alignment to allow continued access to homes and businesses. In addition, one street — Honeycutt Street — will be extended to connect with the new alignment."
Replacing the existing at-grade intersection of SR 347 with an overpass has required a great deal of planning and coordination.
"To create the overpass without impacting local traffic during construction, we had to build a new section of the roadway and a new overpass, meeting safety requirements for clearance over Union Pacific Railroad trains, said Herrmann.
Between excavation and embankment/borrow, about 300,000 cu. yds. of dirt/material will be moved on the project. (ADOT photo)
As for the overall condition of the site prior to construction, property south of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, east of the Amtrak station, was undeveloped. Land north of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway included both residential and commercial structures, which were acquired and removed from the site.
Although there have been unexpected issues, including unmarked underground utilities and other obstructions, weather has not been a significant factor on the project.
"Desert heat in the summer months meant shifting work times to cooler times of the day, including before sunrise. Rain is rarely a factor in the desert environment. The Phoenix area 25 miles to the north receives less than eight inches of rain in a year, much of that during the summer monsoon or winter."
Herrmann said by creating a new alignment away from motorists, there have been few issues regarding traffic.
"We will require road closures for girder placement and deck pours on the overpass during work above Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. Scheduling can minimize the impact of those closures."
The primary tasks remaining involve completing the overpass, including girder placement and pouring the deck, as well as building more than 1 mi. of new pavement north and south of the overpass, connecting to the current alignment near Alterra Parkway on the south and Hathaway Avenue on the north.
Heavy equipment needed to complete the job includes lattice boom cranes, excavators, loaders, bulldozers, scrapers, backhoes and manlifts. (ADOT photo)
Between excavation and embankment/borrow, about 300,000 cu. yds. of dirt/material will be moved on the project.
Heavy equipment needed to complete the job includes lattice boom cranes, excavators, loaders, bulldozers, scrapers, backhoes and manlifts. Some of the main materials being used during construction include concrete and steel reinforcement.
As crews move forward with the project, ADOT reports that the average annual daily traffic for SR 347 at Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway in 2017 was 32,418. Herrmann said now is the ideal time to perform the work.
"This project has been discussed for more than a decade. This is the right time because of the community's continued growth and the increasing railroad traffic." CEG
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