US 60

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.

A Superior drive: A scenic highway just got a lot smoother

A Superior drive: A scenic highway just got a lot smoother

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A Superior drive: A scenic highway just got a lot smoother

A Superior drive: A scenic highway just got a lot smoother

By Garin Groff / ADOT Communications
August 26, 2020

If you’ve driven from Superior to Top-of-the-World on US 60, you’ll certainly remember the jagged rock formations and stunning views as the highway curves and climbs to higher and greener terrain.

But if you’ve driven the scenic highway in the last couple years, you’ve likely also remembered how rough the pavement had become. Thankfully, that’s one aspect of the highway that will now be only a memory.

We’re happy to share the news that crews have recently completed repaving the driving lanes on about 9 miles of US 60, milling away the bumpy asphalt so two new layers of pavement can provide a smooth driving surface for years to come.

The roughly six weeks of paving led to some long delays and ADOT thanks drivers for their patience while crews worked to improve the highway. While drivers can expect periodic lane restrictions and delays to continue through late September, we anticipate delays will be limited to 15 minutes or less.

The restrictions are needed while crews work on final lane striping, rumble strips, guardrail and concrete barriers. Keep an eye out for reduced speed limits and flaggers directing traffic.

While we know nobody likes delays, you’ll be able to soak in the great scenery along US 60 – and enjoy the smoother ride.

Flashback Friday: Mule crews

Flashback Friday: Mule crews

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Flashback Friday: Mule crews

Flashback Friday: Mule crews

By David Rookhuyzen / ADOT Communications
July 31, 2020

Highway construction is and has been labor-intensive, but after we found this photo we couldn't be happier to be living in our modern, mechanized age.

Because these folks here driving the livestock are not farmers out plowing a field. They are actually Arizona Highway Department crews in the process of grading a highway. US 60 between Salome and Aguila, to be exact. This mule-driven photo is from Dec. 7, 1933.

As you might know, grading is the process of smoothing the base layer of a road to remove divots, washboards and other high or low points. For dirt roads, such as this stretch of US 60 (which would also be co-signed with US 70 for a time), grading is basically all the roadwork and maintenance that is done. Today construction crews have grading machines for this type of work. We can only imagine those machines are a bit more reliable than the mules and produce less ... um ... waste.

The year this photo was snapped is significant because it was actually a bit of turning point for highway construction in Arizona. According to our report on the state's transporation history, that year the federal Public Works Administration gave Arizona $5.2 million for road projects, which covered hundreds of miles of grading and draining, oiling, sealing and paving, along with bridge construction, shoulder-widening and railroad-crossing construction.

By 1933, Arizona was also the leading state in the West when it came to oiling, or spraying "low-type bituminous surfacing" on, gravel roads. At the start of the year, more than 1,000 miles of state highways had been oiled, and when State Route 87 in Chandler was surfaced, for the first time a person could drive between Phoenix and Tucson without driving on a single stretch of a gravel road. At the end of 1933, the state reported that all its highways, with limited exceptions, had been oiled or actually paved.

That's all fascianting for us, but it most likely meant little to our mule-driving friends here, who were probably just happy if their stubborn charges kept the grader moving.

 

Expect delays on US 60 between Superior, Top-of-the-World

Expect delays on US 60 between Superior, Top-of-the-World

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Expect delays on US 60 between Superior, Top-of-the-World

Expect delays on US 60 between Superior, Top-of-the-World

June 26, 2020

PHOENIX – Motorists who use US 60 between Superior and Top-of-the-World should expect about six weeks of daytime delays for paving work scheduled to begin Monday, June 29, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Delays of more than 15 minutes are anticipated because of the highway’s terrain, limited sight distances and relatively high traffic volumes. Pilot vehicles and flaggers will guide drivers through the work zone, which will be narrowed to one lane of alternating traffic. The work will occur roughly between mileposts 227 to 236.

Work will occur between sunrise and sunset Mondays through Thursdays, with restrictions ending early Friday afternoons because of heavier traffic volumes.

Paving will begin near Superior and move east toward Top-of-the-World. While paving is underway near the US 60/State Route 177 interchange on Monday, June 29, through Wednesday, July 1, drivers should plan for ramp closures and be prepared to follow signed detours.

The paving is the final part of an improvement project that began in late 2019 and includes concrete sidewalk/curb improvements at the US 60/SR 177 interchange, shoulder improvements, guardrail replacement, bridge deck rehabilitation at Devils Canyon and signage upgrades.

Schedules are subject to change based on weather and other unforeseen factors. For more information, please visit azdot.gov/US60Superior.

Two Grand Avenue intersections to be restricted in Glendale area

Two Grand Avenue intersections to be restricted in Glendale area

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Two Grand Avenue intersections to be restricted in Glendale area

Two Grand Avenue intersections to be restricted in Glendale area

February 11, 2020

Grand Ave. restricted

PHOENIX – The Grand Avenue (US 60) intersections at Bethany Home Road and Northern Avenue will be restricted for several months as part of an improvement project that starts Wednesday night, Feb. 12.

Crews will be extending the westbound Grand Avenue left turn lanes at each intersection to provide more room for drivers to travel westbound onto each of the cross streets. The intersection restrictions are due to be in place until this summer.

Westbound Grand Avenue will be narrowed to two through lanes and a limited left turn lane at the Bethany Home Road intersection starting at 9 p.m. Wednesday. Eastbound Grand Avenue also will be narrowed to two lanes in the work zone although the left turn lane to eastbound Bethany Home Road will remain open.

Similar restrictions will be put into place at the Grand Avenue intersection with Northern Avenue starting at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18. Drivers should allow extra travel time while the Grand Avenue improvement project is underway.

Real-time highway conditions are available on ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov, by calling 511 and through ADOT’s Twitter feed, @ArizonaDOT. When a freeway closure or other major traffic event occurs, our free app available at ADOTAlerts.com will send critical information directly to app users in affected areas – where possible, in advance of alternate routes.

Behind the scenes, bursts of progress at Pinto Creek Bridge project

Behind the scenes, bursts of progress at Pinto Creek Bridge project

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Behind the scenes, bursts of progress at Pinto Creek Bridge project

Behind the scenes, bursts of progress at Pinto Creek Bridge project

By Garin Groff / ADOT Communications
November 27, 2019

Driving along US 60 at Pinto Creek, motorists see heavy equipment carving a road out of the rocky terrain at what might seem like a slow pace.

But when the highway is closed to the public, progress comes in bursts.

Just take a look at how quickly explosives dislodge rock in this video captured by ADOT’s video team. The blasting is the most dramatic part of a two-year project to replace the Pinto Creek Bridge, which requires carving an access road into the canyon so crews construct bridge piers.

The blasting has been underway for several weeks, when crews close the highway twice a week between Superior and Miami to keep the public at a safe distance. Blasting will continue Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., into December.

The explosives are used on rock that’s too hard to be removed by earthmoving equipment. But construction also occurs on weekdays, when crews remove softer rock, continue building the access road and prepare for the next blasting operation.

Drivers in the area should expect lane restrictions and allow for extra travel time. Keep up to date on scheduled restrictions or closures at azdot.gov/PintoCreekBridge.

Twice-weekly closures begin Nov. 7 for US 60 Pinto Creek Bridge project

Twice-weekly closures begin Nov. 7 for US 60 Pinto Creek Bridge project

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Twice-weekly closures begin Nov. 7 for US 60 Pinto Creek Bridge project

Twice-weekly closures begin Nov. 7 for US 60 Pinto Creek Bridge project

November 5, 2019

PHOENIX – Motorists who travel on US 60 between Miami and Superior should plan ahead for about six weeks of twice-a-week daytime closures starting Thursday, Nov. 7, as rock blasting begins for the Pinto Creek Bridge replacement project.

The blasting will lead to closures of US 60 on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., a schedule the Arizona Department of Transportation designed to provide consistency for those who rely on this highway east of the Phoenix area.

During closures, motorists will use a detour on state routes 77 and 177 through Winkelman. That roughly 68-mile route includes a 10 percent grade and will significantly increase travel time. Drivers may want to plan trips before or after the full closures because of the potential for long delays.

Eastbound US 60 traffic will be redirected at State Route 177 in Superior, and westbound traffic will be redirected at the west end of Miami. Traffic will not be allowed to queue at the closure locations.

Motorists with destinations between SR 177 and Top-of-the-Word west of Pinto Creek or between Miami and Pinto Valley Mine Road east of Pinto Creek will be allowed to pass. No vehicles will be allowed between Top-of-the-World and Pinto Valley Mine Road.

Daily lane restrictions continue at the Pinto Creek Bridge on Mondays through Thursdays from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Fridays from 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. During those times, flaggers will direct traffic and drivers should plan extra travel time.

Drivers should proceed with caution, slow down and watch for construction personnel and equipment.

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