I-17 101 traffic interchange

South Mountain Freeway marks first anniversary

South Mountain Freeway marks first anniversary

December 21, 2020

For Immediate Release: Dec. 21, 2020
Contact: ADOT Public Information Office
[email protected]

South Mountain Freeway marks first anniversary
State’s largest freeway construction project opened in December 2019

PHOENIX – Just one year ago the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway opened to great fanfare, with a grand opening ceremony led by Governor Doug Ducey and other Arizona leaders a few days before it was opened to traffic on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019.

It’s first year, like many other things during the year of the pandemic, has been much quieter.

A year since the freeway’s opening, the 22-mile South Mountain Freeway provides an alternate route for drivers traveling from one side of the Phoenix area to the other who want to avoid potential congestion in the downtown area. It was the final piece of the Loop 101 and 202 freeway system that circles the Phoenix area.

The freeway has received positive feedback from drivers and businesses for providing a faster, simpler route across the Valley. 

With many people working from home, traffic on the freeway has been lighter than expected in the first year. At the beginning of December 2020, nearly 60,000 vehicles were using the freeway each day, about half of the projected traffic. Valleywide, freeways experienced a 50% drop in traffic in mid-2020, and have rebounded to carry about 75-85% of normal traffic in recent months.  

The lighter traffic also has delayed the use of ramp meters on some on-ramps in the West Valley. Ramp meters have been installed at seven locations but they have not been activated.

Ramp meters are located on southbound entrance ramps at Van Buren Street and Buckeye, Broadway and Baseline roads, and northbound at Buckeye and Lower Buckeye roads and Southern Avenue.

Work on the freeway itself was completed in October 2020 with the opening of an interchange at 32nd Street and a 6-mile shared-use path. Work continues on some surface streets adjacent to the freeway throughout the corridor.

Using an innovative public-private partnership for the state’s largest-ever highway project, ADOT was able to open the 22-mile freeway three years earlier than if it had been built as a series of traditional projects. The agreement also allowed ADOT to deliver the $1.7 billion South Mountain Freeway at a cost savings of more than $100 million.

This was Arizona’s first highway project built using a public-private partnership, which combined design, construction and maintenance in a single contract. Connect 202 Partners, the developer chosen for the project, will maintain the South Mountain Freeway for the next 30 years under the agreement.

The South Mountain Freeway has long been part of the region’s transportation plans. It was funded in part by Proposition 400, a dedicated sales tax approved by Maricopa County voters in 2004. 

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