Frequently Asked Questions - US 60: Pinto Creek Bridge Replacement Project

What is ADOT going to do?

ADOT is going to replace the Pinto Creek Bridge located on US 60 at milepost 239, 12 miles east of the town of Superior in Gila County. This involves constructing a new bridge over Pinto Creek and then removing the existing bridge.

Why does ADOT need to build a new bridge?

The Pinto Creek Bridge was built to standards in 1949; however, those standards no longer meet ADOT’s current minimum bridge guidelines or bridge guidelines required by the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials. As of 2018, the bridge had been in place for 69 years – notably longer than a typical bridge’s design life of 50 years. During the last several years ADOT has completed multiple maintenance projects on the bridge to extend its life. However, because of exposure to weather and continued traffic-induced vibration, the structure has reached the end of its useful life. If this bridge is not replaced, ADOT will soon need to reduce the size and weight of allowable loads on it, which would negatively impact the area’s mining industry, interstate commerce and the traveling public.

What is the project timeline?

Construction of access roads to the project site is expected to begin in 2019. Work on the bridge is scheduled to begin after construction of the access roads is complete. The project is expected to last approximately two years.

What type of traffic impacts should drivers expect during construction?

Drivers should expect occasional restrictions and closures of US 60 in the work zone.  ADOT will keep the existing bridge in service until the new bridge is completed. Scheduled closures of US 60 will be required during certain work, such as girder setting and deck pouring.  ADOT will notify the public in advance when specific restrictions or closures are planned and the project team will set up message boards on US 60 in advance. Subscribe to receive traffic alerts and project updates by email.

What is the detour when the US 60 is closed?

During full closures of the US 60, ADOT will detour traffic onto State Route 77 and State Route 177. However because of the length of this detour (approximately 75 miles) drivers might want to consider delaying their travel until US 60 reopens.

Where will the new bridge be constructed in relation to the existing bridge?

The new bridge will be constructed just to the north of the existing bridge footprint. Because of the limited space, the east end of the new bridge will be located in essentially the same place as the existing bridge. In order to construct the east end of the new bridge, ADOT will likely need to move traffic one lane at a time from off the existing bridge onto the new one.

What will the new bridge look like?

Visit the project web page to see a rendering of the new bridge.

How long is the new bridge expected to last?

The design life of the new bridge is at least 50 years.

Is it feasible to upgrade the existing bridge?

Upgrading the existing bridge to extend its life another 50 or more years would require entirely reconstructing it “in place.” These costs would far exceed the money allocated to replace the bridge. It would also require extended closures of US 60 during the next several years, which would create substantial impacts for drivers who rely on US 60 in southeastern Arizona and hinder the Arizona economy. Further, the costs of continuing to maintain the existing bridge to extend its lifespan increase exponentially every year as the structure continues to age. Allocating sufficient funding for the ongoing maintenance of the existing bridge would divert funds needed to repair or replace multiple other bridges on the state highway system throughout Arizona.

Can ADOT repurpose or save the existing bridge?

ADOT considered several alternatives to removing it, including rehabilitating the existing bridge; retaining the existing bridge and building a new bridge adjacent to it; and transferring ownership of the existing bridge to another entity. Because of cost and safety factors, none of these options was deemed feasible. Because of the structural deficiencies in the existing bridge, even preserving it in place without allowing traffic to drive on it would require ongoing repairs and maintenance to preserve its integrity. As noted previously, this would put funding for other bridge projects in Arizona in jeopardy. ADOT could not identify a third party to take on this perpetual cost and responsibility. Based on ADOT’s review of the alternatives, and with input from the Federal Highway Administration, the State Historic Preservation Office, the United States Forest Service and other stakeholders, ADOT determined that it was both prudent and reasonable to remove the existing bridge as part of constructing the new bridge.

Where can I learn more about the considerations, options and factors that went into the decision-making process?

Because the Pinto Creek Bridge is an historic structure, ADOT was required to complete an evaluation and detailed report in accordance with Section 4(f) of the US Department of Transportation Act of 1966. The federal Section 4(f) requirements stipulate that the Federal Highway Administration and other transportation agencies, such as ADOT, cannot approve the use of land from publicly owned parks, recreational areas, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, or public and private historical sites, unless:

  • There is no feasible and prudent avoidance alternative to the use of land; and the action includes all possible planning to minimize harm to the property resulting from such use; or
  • The FHWA determines that the use of the property will have a de minimis (trivial or minor) impact. 

Read the Section 4(f) report for the Pinto Creek Bridge for more information.