PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Transportation marked a year of accomplishments in 2013, including the quick response to a natural catastrophe that damaged US 89 near Page, gathering community input at public meetings on the proposed Interstate 11 corridor linking Phoenix and Las Vegas, and alerting drivers to the state’s “Move Over” law. Here’s a look at the highlights from around the state.
Loop 303 Improvements
Significant progress was made in 2013 on a series of projects to improve Loop 303 into a modern six-lane freeway between Interstate 10 and US 60 (Grand Avenue) in the West Valley. This fall, ADOT completed a $128 million project to reconstruct the former two-lane highway into an urban freeway from Mountain View Boulevard, just south of Grand Avenue, to Peoria Avenue in Surprise. A six-lane stretch of Loop 303 also is open between Peoria and Glendale avenues, while crews will complete work on other projects in 2014, including the $145 million interchange that will link I-10 with Loop 303 in Goodyear.
State Route 24 (Gateway Freeway)
The first one-mile leg of State Route 24 (Gateway Freeway) between Loop 202 and Ellsworth Road in southeast Mesa is nearing completion. Crews have constructed elevated ramps that will soon connect Loop 202 and SR 24 near Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. The $71.4 million project started in March 2012 and is due to be open to traffic by spring 2014.
US 60 (Grand Avenue) Improvements
US 60 (Grand Avenue) has been resurfaced between 71st and 83rd avenues in Peoria as part of a project that included landscaping, fencing and wall installations. ADOT also kicked off a larger $12.7 million Grand Avenue improvement project between 71st Avenue in Glendale and 19th Avenue in Phoenix. Turn-lane additions and new traffic signals are among the enhancements. A much-needed second left-turn lane along northbound 19th Avenue approaching Grand Avenue was installed in time for the Arizona State Fair in October. The entire project will be completed in 2014.
Loop 101 HOV-Lane Ramps (Maryland Avenue)
In October, ADOT also launched construction of Loop 101 HOV-lane ramps at the Maryland Avenue bridge near the Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale. When completed in 2014, the $11.7 million project will add access points for Westgate and venues such as Jobing.com Arena and University of Phoenix Stadium. The ramps, which have already started taking shape, also will be available for use well before the Arizona Cardinals' 2014 season and the 2015 Super Bowl.
Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway
ADOT hosted a public meeting in May at the Phoenix Convention Center for the proposed Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway. The freeway would run east and west along Pecos Road and then turn north between 55th and 63rd avenues, connecting with I-10 on each end. The South Mountain Freeway is the last piece to complete the Loop 202 and Loop 101 freeway system necessary for high-quality regional mobility. The project has been a critical part of the Maricopa Association of Governments’ Regional Freeway Program since it was first included in funding through Proposition 300 approved by Maricopa County voters in 1985. The freeway was also part of the Regional Transportation Plan funding passed by Maricopa County voters in 2004 through Proposition 400. The proposed project is currently in the developmental phase and ADOT is preparing the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision, which is expected in 2014.
State Highway System
US 89 Landslide
In the early morning hours of Feb. 20, a landslide ripped through a section of US 89 along a mountain slope about 25 miles south of Page. The significant roadway damage forced ADOT to close the highway between Bitter Springs and Page. Immediately after the landslide, ADOT established detours for drivers to connect to Page and southern Utah. ADOT also opened a field office in Page to address the community’s concerns regarding the closure of the highway. ADOT conducted a geotechnical investigation to determine the exact cause of the damage and set forth a long-term strategy to restore US 89. ADOT is scheduled to start construction on repairs in mid-2014 if there are no environmental or right-of-way hurdles.
US 89 Detour: From Navajo Route 20 to US 89T
Following the US 89 landslide, ADOT initially established an alternate route along US 160 and State Route 98; however, the 115-mile-long route created a heavy burden for drivers because of the distance. ADOT worked with the Navajo Nation, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Federal Highway Administration to find a better solution until the repairs on US 89 were complete. The solution included a $35 million paving project on Navajo Route 20 and temporarily adopting the roadway into the state highway system as US 89T. The expedited project was finished only three months after breaking ground, an impressive feat considering the 44-mile-long tribal route was primarily a dirt road before work began in late May. After completing the paving of US 89T in late August, the detour route travel time was cut in nearly half on a roadway similar in length to the closed US 89 route.
Interstate 10 Widening in Tucson
Continuing an effort to expand Interstate 10 through Tucson, ADOT made progress on a $76.4 million improvement project to widen the interstate to four lanes in each direction between Ruthrauff and Prince roads, while also reconstructing the Prince Road traffic interchange to pass over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and I-10. In June 2013, ADOT moved traffic onto the new eastbound I-10 exit ramp at Prince and the frontage road between Commerce Drive and Prince Road, and in the fall, ADOT installed the final bridge span that will carry Prince Road traffic over, instead of across, the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. The project is on schedule to be completed in spring 2014.
Interstate 17/State Route 69 Cordes Junction Traffic Interchange
This summer, ADOT completed a $50 million makeover of the traffic interchange at Cordes Junction at Interstate 17 and SR 69. The original design, built in the 1960s, was outdated and no longer met the demands of increased traffic volume. The project included construction of two new roundabouts, a flyover bridge carrying high-speed traffic over I-17 toward Prescott, a new overpass (Arcosanti Road) and new bridges. The project also included vibrant colors and designs on the bridge abutments created by the late Paolo Soleri, founder of the nearby Arcosanti community.
State Route 260 Widening through Doubtful Canyon
In fall 2013, ADOT completed a $29 million widening project on State Route 260 approximately 20 miles east of Payson in Gila County. The project, which began in November 2010, upgraded a three-mile section to a four-lane divided highway and is the fifth of six projects designed to widen the highway from Star Valley to the Mogollon Rim.
Interstate 10 Cienega Creek Bridge Demolition
In 2013, ADOT demolished the old eastbound and westbound Interstate 10 bridges over Cienega Creek, as well as the old Union Pacific Railroad bridge over I-10. ADOT also constructed the new westbound I-10 roadway alignment and the westbound I-10 bridge over Cienega Creek. Major strides were taken in late 2013 to reconstruct the eastbound I-10 roadway alignment and construct the new eastbound I-10 bridge over Cienega Creek. The $17.6 million project will provide safer, updated roadway in the region.
Interstate 11 and Intermountain West Corridor Study
The Arizona and Nevada departments of transportation have made significant progress on the Interstate 11 and Intermountain West Corridor study. The study includes detailed corridor planning of a possible high-priority interstate link between the Phoenix and Las Vegas metropolitan areas, along with high-level visioning for potentially extending the corridor north to Canada and south to Mexico.
This year, the study team completed the Corridor Justification Report, explored the universe of alternatives for potential routes from Mexico to northern Nevada, and held a series of public meetings this past fall that featured the narrowed list of corridor alternatives that will move forward for further analysis. I-11 brings opportunities for travel, trade, tourism and economic development by connecting regional markets. More information is available at i11study.com.
ADOT’s Passenger Rail Corridor Study
ADOT continues to study the concept of connecting Phoenix and Tucson by passenger rail. During the past year, the study team narrowed the list of alternatives from seven to three. ADOT is now moving forward with the Green Alternative, which would run along Interstate 10 between the two metropolitan areas; the Orange Alternative, which would serve Phoenix-area East Valley population centers and share part of its alignment with the planned North-South Freeway Corridor; and the Yellow Alternative, which would also serve East Valley communities and share right of way with Union Pacific Railroad north of Eloy, where appropriate. All three alternatives would run along I-10 south of Eloy.
ADOT’s Public-Private Partnership Program
The first two public-private partnership projects are now underway at ADOT. Fourteen state highway rest areas are now managed under one contract under the agency’s first active public-private partnership. Under the five-year agreement, Infrastructure Corporation of America, a private company, took over the maintenance and operations of all 14 rest areas, and is implementing a sponsorship and advertising program to generate additional revenue that will help fund rest area operations.
ADOT is also set to relocate to new offices in Flagstaff as part of a public-private partnership designed to acquire new facilities for the agency and free up prime land for local redevelopment. The department is currently working through the pre-development agreement with Vintage Partners, an Arizona-based development firm, as the developer that will relocate and consolidate the agency’s offices in Flagstaff.
Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance
During the course of 2013, the Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance was formed and met several times. The TTCA is tasked with developing a road map for Arizona’s future, focusing on job creation, economic development, trade and transportation infrastructure investment. The TTCA Steering Committee is comprised of leaders from Arizona’s transportation, trade and commerce industries, along with international entities. ADOT Director John Halikowski co-chairs the TTCA Steering Committee with former Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe.
ADOT’s Five-Year Transportation Facilities Construction Program
The 2014-2018 Five-Year Transportation Facilities Construction Program drew months of public comment and debate over which state highway projects will be funded over the next five years, particularly in Greater Arizona. The State Transportation Board wrestled with some tough choices about how to fund major projects and still preserve the existing highway system. Due to a major decline in transportation funding, ADOT reduced the 2014-2018 Five-Year Program by a total of $350 million statewide. This significant reduction in funding means fewer expansion projects will move forward to improve the state highway system.
Motor Vehicle Division/Enforcement and Compliance Division
Motor Vehicle Division
The Motor Vehicle Division continued its focus on providing quality customer service. MVD and its partners safely and efficiently handled more than 16 million transactions online, in person and through the mail, which accounted for more than $1 billion in state revenue. New MVD offices were opened in Payson and Nogales. ServiceArizona.com was redesigned with an updated, modern look to provide an improved user experience and a new feature allowing customers to check for liens before buying a vehicle. A new generation of self-service workstations, which enable customers to easily transact business without assistance from MVD staff, were installed in the busiest MVD offices statewide.
New services for qualified Arizona veterans include having a veteran status notation added to the driver license, and providing a road skills test waiver option to commercial driver license applicants who are veterans and meet the required criteria. The Motor Vehicle Division received recognition from the Donor Network of Arizona for the highly successful partnership that facilitates the registration of more than 90 percent of the state’s organ and tissue donors. In addition to serving the general public, the Motor Vehicle Division continued to work closely with and improve services for its industry and government partners statewide, including motor carriers, motor vehicle dealers, law enforcement agencies and the courts.
Enforcement and Compliance Division
As a means of improving highway safety throughout Arizona, the Enforcement and Compliance Division accomplished a number of milestones during 2013. ECD consists of the Office of the Inspector General Executive Hearing Office and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement. Office of Inspector General detectives conducted approximately 2,500 investigations resulting in more than 600 arrests for felony charges or issuance of criminal misdemeanor citations. The Executive Hearing Office resolved more than 21,000 cases involving ADOT regulatory actions, DUI civil suspensions (Admin Per Se/Implied Consent), ignition interlock, dealerships, fuel taxes, billboards, aviation assessments and restitution liens. An Ombudsman was added to assist in resolving cases involving tax assessments issued. EHO Administrative Law Judges were involved in several community outreach projects. Enforcement officers conducted approximately 15,000 commercial vehicle inspections and issued approximately 500,000 permits to generate more than $16 million in state revenue. Enforcement details were conducted statewide for driver, weight and equipment compliance in addition to joint operations with federal, state and local law enforcement to perform commercial vehicle inspections.
Total Transportation Projects Completed
ADOT is committed to continually exploring new and timely ways of delivering completed projects that make the best use of available funding and resources. In 2013, ADOT delivered 242 completed projects across the state for a total investment of approximately $1 billion.
Pavement Preservation Projects
To maintain approximately 7,000 miles on the state’s highway system, it takes a huge commitment from ADOT to support the existing infrastructure. Through timely preservation projects, ADOT can provide the traveling public with improved safety and mobility, reduced congestion and smoother, longer-lasting pavements. In 2013, ADOT invested $245 million on 46 pavement improvement projects to restore 865 miles of highways across the state.
“Move Over, AZ”
In March, ADOT, along with the Arizona Department of Public Safety and several key partners, launched the “Move Over, AZ” public awareness campaign in an effort to prevent roadside crashes that result in hundreds of deaths and injuries to highway patrol officers, emergency responders, tow truck operators, roadside workers and motorists across the country every year. Similar to Move Over laws in other states, Arizona’s law requires all drivers to move over one lane, or slow down and use caution if changing lanes is not possible, when traveling past any vehicle with flashing lights that is pulled to the side of the roadway. For more information, please visit MoveOverAZ.org