I-17 101 traffic interchange

South Mountain Freeway bridges improving traffic with Salt River flowing

South Mountain Freeway bridges improving traffic with Salt River flowing

March 26, 2020

PHOENIX – For many drivers in the southwest Valley, flooding on the Salt River meant a bridge at 51st Avenue was their primary option to cross the river. But with the opening of the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway three months ago, drivers have a new all-weather option with twice as many lanes to move traffic.

Heavier normal winter rain prompted Salt River Project releases from dams east of Phoenix  recently, closing riverbed crossings at 67th and 91st avenues this week. There is no indication when those crossings will reopen.

To the west of 51st Avenue, the closest bridge is at Avondale Boulevard, but drivers can only go west from there. There also is a bridge at 35th Avenue closer to downtown Phoenix.

The half-mile-long South Mountain Freeway bridges over the Salt River have four lanes in each direction, twice the number of lanes as 51st Avenue, and provide a direct route to Interstate 10.

The bridges have been helpful for West Valley businesses that need to cross the river.

“Our transport drivers are appreciative of having the bridge as another way to cross the river bottom,” said Bob Nally, president of Apache Equipment Rentals, 5757 W. Jefferson St. 

Kevin Danzeisen, general manager of Danzeisen Dairy, 6024 W. Southern Ave. in Laveen, said having a new and reliable route across the river helps a lot.

“It takes us just five minutes to get to the farm with the bridge,” Danzeisen said.

The 22-mile South Mountain Freeway opened in December, providing a connection between the West Valley and East Valley that allows drivers to avoid potential congestion in downtown Phoenix.