US 60

US 60 reopens between Superior, Miami

US 60 reopens between Superior, Miami

I-17 101 traffic interchange

US 60 reopens between Superior, Miami

US 60 reopens between Superior, Miami

August 12, 2021

PHOENIX – US 60 has reopened between Superior and Miami after maintenance crews with the Arizona Department of Transportation repaired extensive flood damage that forced the highway to close early Wednesday.

ADOT crews worked around the clock to make repairs, hauling in about 169 truckloads of rock to shore up the roadway. More than 2,000 cubic yards of boulders were placed along the roadway where it abuts the Bloody Tanks Wash west of Miami. Also, crews have removed damaged guardrail and cleared debris from drainage systems to reduce the risk of future flood damage.

More than 60 people worked to make repairs, including about 30 ADOT employees and 20 Ames Contracting employees who have been working on the nearby Pinto Creek Bridge replacement project. The Pinto Valley Mine also assisted ADOT by supplying boulders.

While both lanes of the highway are now open, ADOT encourages drivers to use extra caution on US 60 between Superior and Miami because of the potential for future flooding due to an adjacent burn scar. ADOT also recommends avoiding travel when storms are passing through the area as well as at nighttime.

Motorists should plan for periodic lane restrictions and delays of 30 to 60 minutes in the coming weeks and months as ADOT makes longer-term repairs, including work on guardrail, pavement and drainage systems. When restrictions are in place, drivers should consider using State Routes 77 and 177 through Winkelman, a roughly 70-mile detour that includes a 10 percent grade and will significantly increase travel time. Also, drivers can use SR 87 and SR 188 as alternate routes.

The closure is a reminder that many factors can trigger unplanned closures, including rainfall from storms. Drivers should get road conditions at AZ511.gov before traveling, or by checking with ADOT on Twitter, Facebook or the ADOT Alerts app.

Pinto Creek Bridge opens a new chapter in Arizona history

Pinto Creek Bridge opens a new chapter in Arizona history

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Pinto Creek Bridge opens a new chapter in Arizona history

Pinto Creek Bridge opens a new chapter in Arizona history

By Kim Larsen / ADOT Communications
August 12, 2021

American engineer and educator James Kip Finch said “The engineer has been, and is, a maker of history.”

That can definitely be said of the engineers and team members working on the Pinto Creek Bridge project as they are creating a replacement for a 72-year-old bridge, located on US 60 about six miles west of Miami, to keep a southern Arizona community moving.

When the project began in 2012, many factors came into play, including addressing historic preservation with the Federal Highway Administration and bridge aesthetics with the U.S. Forest Service. Another consideration was environmental impact, which led to the mitigation and conservation of the Arizona Hedgehog Cactus in the canyon.

An interesting development was the discovery of a mine adit, which is basically a prospector’s tunnel, a consideration during the original construction in the 1940s. The team did 3D modeling of the foundation excavation limits to determine the type of foundation that would reduce any risk due to the mine adit.

ADOT used value engineering to develop improvements to the construction feasibility review and efficiency of the bridge, saving about $1.5 million.

“Adjustments were made to the foundations and column reinforcing for efficiency and constructibility,” Bridge Designer Rafe Davis explained. “A bid alternate was developed in the plans and specifications which provided the contractor flexibility.”

The bridge is now about 73% complete. The girder lift took place in April, but it was an involved process

“The girders took more than three months to fabricate, not including the time for required submittals and to prepare the structural steel shop drawings,” Project Supervisor Kim Vanvolkinburg said. “Once girder delivery to the project began, it took them about six weeks to set and splice all the girders and cross frames. The contractor brought in multiple cranes, and had to move them several times due to the logistics of working adjacent to the existing highway and within the canyon below.”

The projected completion date is January 2022.

“This will likely adjust some as there is a lot of work yet to be completed,” Vanvolkinburg said. “Hopefully, the weather will cooperate.”

Read more about the bridge project and progress in the ADOT Blog. Discover photos of the project and the girder lift on Flickr

Flooding closes US 60 between Superior, Miami

Flooding closes US 60 between Superior, Miami

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Flooding closes US 60 between Superior, Miami

Flooding closes US 60 between Superior, Miami

August 11, 2021

PHOENIX – Drivers should plan for an extended closure of US 60 between Superior and Miami as the Arizona Department of Transportation works to repair flood damage along the highway.

The closure is between mileposts 226 at State Route 177 in Superior and milepost 243 at the west side of Miami, with motorists detoured onto SR 77 and SR 177 through Winkelman. The roughly 70-mile detour includes a 10 percent grade and will significantly increase travel time.

ADOT maintenance crews are planning 24-hour operations to repair the roadway at the Bloody Tanks Wash, which is about one mile west of the closure in Miami. The repair will require an estimated 300 truckloads of boulders to shore up the highway so it can safely reopen to traffic.

The closure is a reminder that many factors can trigger unplanned closures, including rainfall from storms. Drivers should get road conditions at AZ511.gov before traveling, or by checking with ADOT on Twitter, Facebook or the ADOT Alerts app.

Innovation paving the way near Show Low - literally

Innovation paving the way near Show Low - literally

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Innovation paving the way near Show Low - literally

Innovation paving the way near Show Low - literally

By David Rookhuyzen / ADOT Communications
June 15, 2021

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus, who died in roughly 475 B.C.E., is said to have been the originator of the phrase "the only constant in life is change."

And while that thought seems fine for philosophy books, what does it have to do with transportation? 

Well, it turns out that you can find change and new approaches in even a common task like paving a road.

Let's take ADOT's project on US 60 and State Route 260 at Show Low, for example. The work, which kicked off on June 1, will remove and replace a total of 11 miles along US 60 and SR 260 near Show Low, in addition to curb and gutter, sidewalk and guardrail work. 

So what's so innovative about that? Because, for this project, ADOT is using a relatively new type of pavement that will improve the road life. In layman's terms, the paving is more dense than what has been used in the past, achieved through greater compaction and a reduction in small air bubbles found in the mixture. This in turn makes it more durable and resistant to things such as rutting, cracking and moisture intrusion. 

Bottom line: That could expand the life of the driving surface by years. 

And if you need another reason to get excited about this, we have you covered. Because ADOT is using this new type of paving, it successfully applied for federal innovation funding. With those new dollars, the federal share of the $16 million project went up 5 percent to 99.3 percent. That means roughly an extra $800,000 is being covered by federal funds.

This isn't the first time ADOT has used this new type of paving, and there are more projects scheduled to utilize it moving forward. 

While we're pretty sure Heraclitus wasn't thinking specifically about paving a road when he talked about change, but improvements like what's happening near Show Low still help prove the 2,500-year old thinker right. 

Adopt a Highway: Few words, many memories on Memorial Day

Adopt a Highway: Few words, many memories on Memorial Day

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Adopt a Highway: Few words, many memories on Memorial Day

Adopt a Highway: Few words, many memories on Memorial Day

By Mary Currie / ADOT Communications
May 28, 2021

On this Memorial Day, a special thank you to Adopt a Highway Volunteer program groups – over 400 statewide, who gather at adopted segments during the year to clear litter in remembrance of beloved family members, both human and furry. Expressing honor by serving the community is a choice ADOT understands and appreciates. 

Traveling northbound toward Show Low on US 60, watch for a mile dedicated to Melissa Pomeroy. For the past three years, Melissa’s sign greets motorists at mileposts 334 and 335. Melissa unexpectedly passed in 2014 at the age of 49, but her twin Michelle keeps her sister’s memory alive within their family. Since 2018, Michelle has participated in the Adopt a Highway Volunteer program and organizes cleanups a couple times a year, mostly with family members. 

South of Florence Junction at SR 79 milepost 144, a memorial sign stands at attention to a brave young Marine.

Brodie Denow was committed to serving his country, as his Marine mom does by helping keep Arizona grand and litter-free.

Headed to Payson? The family of Jonathan T. Orcutt adopted a segment to care for on SR 87 at milepost 189 near Fountain Hills in remembrance of their son. Jonathan’s family clears litter along this segment more than three times per year, which is proudly displayed on the Outstanding Volunteer Placard below the recognition sign in the photo. 

Adopt a Highway recognition signs hold a maximum of 40 characters to express the name of the volunteer group, which may include a sentiment and name.

“Sometimes, expressing how you would like the sign to read in 40 letters can be a challenge. Adopt a Highway permit coordinators understand and will gladly assist volunteer group leaders to maximize a memorial sentiment printed on the sign,” said Mary Currie, the Adopt a Highway program manager. 

In Arizona littering is getting worse. If you are interested in caring for a segment of state highway, we welcome civic-minded groups and individuals that are interested in helping to reduce litter in Arizona by gathering as a group to collect litter a few times per year. Please visit the Adopt a Highway website to learn how.

Throwback Thursday: Superstition sparkle

Throwback Thursday: Superstition sparkle

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Throwback Thursday: Superstition sparkle

Throwback Thursday: Superstition sparkle

By John LaBarbera / ADOT Communications
April 29, 2021

Nothing dazzles quite like an old black-and-white film photograph. Especially one taken at night, surrounded by street lights that are positively celestial.

Right off the bat, the exit signs down the road in this picture tell us we’re looking westbound on the Superstition Freeway, just east of McClintock Drive. Today, this familiar stretch is signed as US Route 60. However, from 1970 to 1992, it was designated State Route 360.

At the time, US 60 followed a “through-town route” along Main Street/Apache Trail about two miles to the north.

State Route 360 has the distinct honor of being the first Valley freeway that wasn’t an interstate highway. It was also the only Phoenix-area freeway being constructed during the entire 1970s.

Here’s another fun note: If you look closely, you may notice the exit numbers are in the single digits. These days, the exits are numbered according to US 60’s corresponding mileposts (173 for Mill, 174 for Rural).

Now, when exactly this photograph was taken is a bit tricky to nail down. For one, this photograph was found undated in our archives. 

The earliest we can posit for this monochrome marvel is around 1975. That’s the year the freeway opened from Mill Ave to Price Road, the future Loop 101 Price Freeway.

The Superstition Freeway would open a few miles every few years until 1991, when it was completed in Apache Junction.

But since we’re not going anywhere right now, let’s just sit back, relax and watch the lights as they twinkle on in the night sky.

Bridge girder placement moves Pinto Creek project forward

Bridge girder placement moves Pinto Creek project forward

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Bridge girder placement moves Pinto Creek project forward

Bridge girder placement moves Pinto Creek project forward

March 1, 2021

PHOENIX –  Motorists traveling US 60 between Superior and Globe will see the new Pinto Creek Bridge come into shape in the coming months as crews begin placing girders that will form the structure’s deck.

The work started Monday, March 1, and requires lane restrictions and delays of up to 15 minutes, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. From now until May, restrictions are scheduled between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. As needed, restrictions will be in place between 7 a.m. noon on Fridays.

The bridge girder placement is a major milestone on the $22.7 million project to replace the 71-year-old structure above Pinto Creek. Once the girders are in place, crews will begin forming the bridge deck for the new 695-foot-long bridge.

The work requires lane restrictions so crews can place the girders onto the piers. The 35 girders range in length from 91 feet to 127 feet, and weigh an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 pounds.

Crews are expected to pour the new bridge deck this summer, and that work is expected to require  91an overnight full closure. Later this summer, a 5-day closure is expected to shift the highway’s alignment onto the new bridge. The project is expected to be complete in early 2022.

For more information, please visit azdot.gov/PintoCreekBridge.

Road Trip Recipes: Salt River Pretzel Bites

Road Trip Recipes: Salt River Pretzel Bites

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Road Trip Recipes: Salt River Pretzel Bites

Road Trip Recipes: Salt River Pretzel Bites

By John LaBarbera / ADOT Communications
January 13, 2021

Greetings, hungry travelers!

The holidays are but a memory and wintertime has settled in once again. Good portions of our state will experience snow and frigid temperatures for the foreseeable future. Heck, even the low 40s that folks see in Phoenix and Tucson this time of year can be downright bone-chilling for desert dwellers.

So how about staying inside and whipping up something warm and scrumptious to enjoy while wrapped up in a cozy blanket on your favorite couch and/or futon?

For this edition of Road Trip Recipes, we are proud to present: Salt River Pretzel Bites!

We’ll get to the recipe in just a moment. First, let’s talk a little bit about its namesake.

The Salt River travels close to 200 miles between Maricopa and Gila counties. It ends as a tributary of the Gila River near Tolleson, but we can follow it back northeast as it winds through man-made reservoirs such as Theodore Roosevelt Lake. We can keep going quite awhile until we reach its formation at the confluence of the White and Black rivers in the White Mountains. It’s that spot, known for huge salt deposits, that give the Salt River its name.

Now, you may be thinking, “Well, all that is absolutely fascinating. But what does it have to do with transportation?”

We’re glad we assumed you asked!

The Salt River lends its name to some very important pieces of ADOT infrastructure.

Namely, the Salt River Bridge. In fact, there are several of them!

In the Phoenix metro area, you’ll find a Salt River Bridge on Interstate 10 between the I-17 "Split" interchange and University Drive. The current iteration of the bridge opened in 1986; it’s nearly a quarter mile long and carries millions of drivers over the often dry riverbed each week. You'll also find a Salt River crossing on both the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway and the Loop 202 Red Mountain Freeway. The latter's bridges, spanning the river just west of the Loop 101 Pima Freeway, are the longest in the entire state!

State Route 288 Salt River Bridge
There’s a Salt River Bridge on State Route 288 too. You’ll find it just north of the junction with State Route 188 near Roosevelt Lake. This one was built a solid 100 years ago in 1920 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. You can see that in the photo to the right.

That leads us to US 60. This highway finds itself going over the Salt River about halfway between Globe and Show Low. But the interesting thing is, there are TWO Salt River Bridges there! The first one was built in 1934 and funded by the New Deal’s Public Works Administration. It’s now restricted to pedestrian traffic only and can be found on the National Register of Historic Places. The modern bridge opened in 1996 and is a striking shade of rose, adorned with beautiful symbols commemorating the Native American communities in the area. That's the beautiful piece of architecture you see at the top of this post. 

Close by this bridge pair you’ll find the Salt River Canyon Rest Area. Not just a place for personal hygiene, this rest area offers pleasant views of the Salt River. Walk down a few steps and you’ll find  picnic tables on which you can enjoy a quick meal while overlooking the water. In 2014, the Salt River Canyon Rest Area received a major renovation, including the addition of solar panels that now power the facility. 

Now, let’s make some pretzels!

Salt River Pretzel Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 1 packet instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 4 cups flour
  • 9 cups water (for baking soda bath)
  • ½ cup baking soda (for baking soda bath)

Topping Options:

  • Coarse sea salt
  • Everything bagel mix
  • Cinnamon sugar

Prepare:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the yeast together with the warm water. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk in the salt, brown sugar, and melted butter.
  2. Add flour, one cup at a time, mixing with a wooden spoon until dough forms.
  3. Knead dough for 3 minutes and shape into a ball. Cover with a slightly damp towel and allow to rise for 10 minutes. 
  4. Combine water and baking soda into a large pot. Start bringing to a boil. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400°F. Line baking pans with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray. 
  5. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 6 equal sections. Roll each section of dough into 1 inch ropes. Cut the rope every 1 ½ inches with the pizza cutter, forming your bites. 
  6. Drop 8-10 pretzel bites into the boiling water at a time for 20 seconds. Retrieve bites with a slotted spoon and drain as much water as possible. Spread onto your prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with the topping of your choice. 
  7. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe should yield about 100 bites. Pretzels can be stored for up to three days in an airtight container. Serve with a dip of your choice!

Old US 60 bridge shows original way to cross Queen Creek

Old US 60 bridge shows original way to cross Queen Creek

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Old US 60 bridge shows original way to cross Queen Creek

Old US 60 bridge shows original way to cross Queen Creek

By David Rookhuyzen / ADOT Communications
November 13, 2020

It's a question as old as transportation itself: How are we going to get across that?

Whether it be a river, creek, wash, arroyo, canyon or crevice, getting a vehicle from one side to the other is a prime concern when it comes to building roads. Today we have a plethora of options, machinery and materials at our disposal to build a crossing that will both be functional and stand the test of time. As we told you in an earlier blog, we can even build bridges seemingly in mid-air using some fancy engineering. 

That's why it's good to sometimes go back and look how they did it in the old days, when getting to the other side was just as important, but engineers didn't have access to the same resources.

Which brings us to the old US 60 bridge over Queen Creek, just east of Superior. In a blog post last year we explained the original road between Superior and Miami opened in 1922 and was a 21-mile winding mountain road that took motorists down to and over Queen Creek, Devils Canyon and Pinto Creek. This original road and the associated bridges were done under the auspices of Lamar Cobb, Arizona's first state engineer who also planned the state's initial highway system.

It was one of the most difficult road building tasks the young state had done up to that time and the subsequent road has been described as a "winding ladder." You can still see the old road in several spots on your way toward Top-of-the-World.

The original bridge over Queek Creek on the east side of Superior is what you see at the bottom of the photo to the right. It's at the floor of the same canyon where the modern Queen Creek bridge is now, which you can see in the background. Like the original bridges over Devil's Canyon and Pinto Creek, this old bridge is a site-specific, single-span reinforced concrete arch, with steel pipeway guardrails and paneled concrete bulkheads. Which is to say it definitely has none of the modern frills or architectural flourishes you see in some bridges today.

But it did the job it was designed to do. The bridge served motorists for nearly 30 years before a post-World War II population boom called for new, wider road alignments on major highways. In order to accomodate a wider road, US 60 had to be moved to a higher elevation. And that meant new bridges. Eventually the new graceful steel arch bridge over Pinto Creek (which ADOT is currently replacing) opened in 1950 with the new Queen Creek bridge opening in 1953.

So, if you are driving on US 60 heading east from Superior, go ahead and steal a glance of the original bridge, and maybe think about how lucky you are to be crossing its wider, flashier younger brother. 

A Superior state of mind along US 60

A Superior state of mind along US 60

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A Superior state of mind along US 60

A Superior state of mind along US 60

By John LaBarbera / ADOT Communications
November 9, 2020

US 60 is nearly 370 miles long, stretching from the New Mexico state lane to Quartzsite, just 30 miles shy of hitting California. Along the way it's dotted with plenty of interesting locales.

But there is one place that stands above them all, at least in its name: Superior.

Tucked away in a peaceful spot along Queen Creek in the rough terrain at the southern end of the Superstition Mountains,  there's a lot of history here waiting to be discovered on your next road trip.

Dominating the landscape is the recognizable Apache Leap to the southeast. According to Native History Magazine, the name comes from an early 1870’s battle between the tribe and the U.S. Cavalry. Attacked and driven to the edge of the steep cliff by U.S. troops, the Apache brethren decided to leap to their deaths rather than surrender. Apache Leap looms over Superior as a reminder of the area’s bloody history.

Like many of Arizona’s once-boom towns, Superior owes its existence to a nearby mine. Silver was found in the area in 1875 and the Silver King Mine, from which it was plucked, remained in operation until 1920. The Silver Queen was the King’s sister mine, though it had a relatively shorter life, shutting down in 1907.

Precious metal royalty aside, the undoubted sultan of Superior was the Magma Mine. Founded by William Boyce Thompson (namesake of the nearby arboretum), Magma Mine opened in 1910 and incorporated the shuttered Silver Queen in its operations. Magma shut down in 1982 but had a short resurgence from 1990 to 1996. All in all, nearly 1.3 million tons of copper and over 34 million ounces of silver (along with a decent amount of gold) were recovered from the mine.

Mining continues to this day, with crews exploring deep within the former Magma Mine for any untapped copper deposits.

The automobile road that would connect Superior with the outside world was established in 1922, part of Arizona’s “Million Dollar Highway.” After a national numbering system was adopted in the mid-1920s, this eventually became US 60. Just four years later, the Claypool Tunnel was erected east of Superior to better aide travelers who were on their way to (or from!) Miami. While extremely photogenic, the Claypool Tunnel was replaced by the much more efficient Queen Creek Tunnel in 1952. The tunnel’s dedication ceremony served as the crowning moment of the Arizona Highway Department’s (as we were known at the time) 15-year project to improve US 60 between Superior and Miami.

Those passing through can still spot the original bridge and highway down in the canyon just east of town. That winding road and simple concrete bridge were in use for nearly three decades before widening work and other improvements demanded moving the highway to a higher elevation. 

Today, a trip to Superior consists of taking in their downtown area, just a quick turn off US 60 onto Magma Avenue, and basking in the locked-in-time appeal of its buildings, especially the McPherson Magma Hotel. Built in 1912, the hotel has been used for many purposes throughout its existence and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. After a collapse in 2006, the Magma Hotel recently reopened.

The World’s Smallest Museum offers a plethora of random knick-knacks all tucked within a space just big enough to be generously called a hallway. Nearby, you can also visit the gravesite of Wild West lawman Wyatt Earp’s first wife (by common law), Mattie, who died tragically of an opium overdose in 1888.

Another stop near Superior on US 60 is the aforementioned Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Founded by its eponym in 1924, the arboretum is the oldest and largest in Arizona featuring a plethora of desert plants and the wild animals they attract. It officially opened to the public in 1929 and continues to attract more than 75,000 visitors a year. That's just one view of it that you can see in the photo above.

So, if you are looking for a quick day trip or maybe even a weekend getaway, hop onto to US 60 to visit this historic spot that certainly lives up to its name.

Can't get enough US 60? Take a virtual road trip and check out some more alluring Arizona scenery.