SURPRISE – Drivers now can skip detour routes and make direct connections between Grand Avenue (US 60) and Bell Road after the Arizona Department of Transportation opened all four ramps Thursday at the Valley’s newest highway interchange.
The new on- and off-ramps extend from the center median area along Grand Avenue to the recently completed Bell Road bridge as part of a $41.9 million project that started just over a year ago. Traffic signals on the overpass regulate turns between the ramps and Bell Road.
“This is about planning ahead, thinking outside the box and keeping promises,” said Dallas Hammit, ADOT’s state engineer and deputy director for transportation. “The project team did a great job opening the Bell Road bridge in November and now completing the new Grand Avenue ramps before the start of Cactus League play at Surprise Stadium, as we had pledged to do.”
The new interchange improves the flow of traffic by replacing the old ground-level intersection that was plagued by long lines and delays, especially when Bell Road drivers needed to cross both Grand Avenue and the parallel BNSF Railway tracks. The Bell Road bridge now travels over Grand Avenue and the railroad tracks.
Surprise Mayor Sharon Wolcott called the project a perfect example of community involvement and agency cooperation to limit impacts on businesses, local residents and visitors.
“After hearing from residents and the business community, we worked with ADOT to create a shortened project schedule to mitigate the impacts during spring training and last year’s holiday shopping season,” Wolcott said. “Thanks to a collaborative approach we have achieved those goals. I sincerely appreciate everyone who played a role in making this happen.”
Opening the new ramps means drivers aren’t required to use temporary detour routes, including Dysart and Litchfield roads, to get to and from Bell Road and Grand Avenue.
The Bell/Grand interchange design is known as a median urban diamond, with connections at the center rather than ramps to the right of Grand Avenue’s travel lanes or other possible configurations. The benefits of this design include minimizing the impact on neighboring shopping centers and businesses by not requiring the ADOT to acquire as much property.
The entire project is expected to be completed by early March after crews replace temporary lane stripes on fresh pavement with permanent striping. Landscaping and drainage system work also will be finished in the coming weeks.
The project is funded as part of the Maricopa Association of Governments’ Regional Transportation Plan approved by county voters in 2004. Funding sources include a countywide half-cent sales tax for road and transit improvements as well as the Phoenix region’s share of federal and state transportation funds.