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Initial repairs underway to restore limited access to State Route 88

Initial repairs underway to restore limited access to State Route 88

April 25, 2024

Roadway work is step toward interim project for section closed since 2019

PHOENIX – Arizona Department of Transportation crews are removing vegetation, grading the roadway and repairing drainage culverts to prepare for a project that will restore limited access to a stretch of State Route 88 (Apache Trail) that has been closed since severe flooding in 2019. 

The work is preparing the roadway for a $4 million interim project scheduled to begin this summer that will make the 5 unpaved miles that remain closed near Fish Creek Hill east of the Phoenix area (mileposts 222-227) accessible to high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicles and utility task vehicles.

Meanwhile, ADOT continues seeking federal funding for far more extensive upgrades, estimated to cost $33.7 million, that would make the highway accessible to other vehicles and more resilient to storms. 

ADOT maintenance crews are scheduled to continue working into the summer, when contracted work is expected to begin. Before ADOT can schedule the interim project, the U.S. Forest Service must review and approve any activity, as SR 88 follows an easement through federal land. The project also must meet all applicable state and federal environmental requirements.

These 5 miles of SR 88 have been closed between Fish Creek Hill Overlook and the Reavis Trailhead since the 2019 flooding, which was exacerbated in areas by runoff from the Woodbury Fire scar. The original closure point on the east side was at Apache Lake Marina at milepost 229, but ADOT reopened 1.7 miles west to the popular Reavis Trailhead in 2022. 

ADOT’s interim plan calls for removing boulders on Fish Creek Hill, mitigating rockfall as needed between Fish Creek Hill Overlook and Fish Creek (mileposts 222-223.5), making repairs to retaining walls, installing new signage, cleaning and potentially replacing damaged drainage culverts, and taking other steps to safely reopen the highway for high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicles and utility task vehicles. 

While the area between mileposts 222-227 has been open to hikers, bicyclists and equestrians, no public access will be allowed once contract work begins this summer. 

Traveling between the East Valley and Roosevelt Lake, Apache Trail was built during construction of Theodore Roosevelt Dam, which was completed in 1911. Prior to closing in 2019, the stretch between Tortilla Flat and Apache Lake was used by an average of 232 vehicles daily.

ADOT has performed extensive work since 2019 to restore access to and improve other damaged sections of SR 88 and made regular repairs when flooding has damaged areas that are open to traffic. In 2022, ADOT reopened 1.7 miles west from Apache Lake to restore access to the Reavis Trailhead at milepost 227. Motorists can safely access Apache Lake and other points on the east side of the closure via SR 188 and can travel 9 miles east from Tortilla Flat, which has been accessible throughout from the west. 

For more information on the SR 88, please visit azdot.gov/SR88ApacheTrail.