US 60

The mysterious disappearance of the Miami-Superior Highway plaque

The mysterious disappearance of the Miami-Superior Highway plaque

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The mysterious disappearance of the Miami-Superior Highway plaque

The mysterious disappearance of the Miami-Superior Highway plaque

June 4, 2019

By Laurie Merrill / ADOT Communications

This is a good old-fashioned whodunit, Arizona Department of Transportation-style.

It’s the mystery of the missing plaque that was soldered and hammered onto a boulder to commemorate the opening of the Miami-Superior Highway.

On April 29, 1922, the Arizona State Highway Department celebrated its most ambitious projects of the time: 21 miles of winding road through mountainous terrain previously only accessible by horse, stage or railroad.

Nicknamed “the million dollar highway” for its cost and built using labor from a prison camp created in Superior for the purpose, the road was replaced in 1952 with US 60.

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“Even between Globe and Miami, it was a winding road,” said Stanley Gibson, former Globe mayor and councilmember for 40 years. “It took about an hour to get from Globe and Superior.”  

Four years later, in 1926, blasting and drilling was completed on a 300-foot tunnel named for state senator W.D. Claypool. In 1952, it was replaced by the 1,200-foot Queen Creek Tunnel.

“After they built and widened this tunnel they installed a plaque,” said Richard Powers, former engineer-turned-historian of ADOT’s construction and maintenance district serving the Globe area.

Ah, the missing plaque. It proclaimed that the Miami-Superior Highway, 21 miles long, cost $1 million and was constructed between 1919 and 1922. It named Gov. Thomas Campbell and Engineer Thomas Maddock and listed other dignitaries and construction officials, including Claypool, who represented Gila County.

“In 2014, I decided to stop and take a picture of it,” said Gibson, a lifelong Globe resident who, with his wife Janet, ran Gibson’s clothing store on Broad. “Two months later, it was gone.

“I don’t know if it’s been melted down or if someone has it in their house.”

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Powers, district engineer in what was then ADOT's Globe District from 1993 to 2007, said removing the plaque wouldn't have been easy or quick.

“It got stolen, and it was anchored and bolted onto solid rock,” Powers said. “They had to chisel at it for weeks or months to get it out of there.”

Today the old Miami-Superior Highway is a hiking trail. Powers, who has authored books and articles about Arizona highway history and gives talks on the subject, recently led an informative hike along the mine-owned land and discussed wildlife and minerology.

“The old culverts and bridges are there,” Powers said. “It’s a 2- to 3-mile hike to (the Claypool) tunnel.”

What became of the plaque may be never be known, but its historical value may be revived, Powers said. He said the Gila County Historical Museum has determined to commission a replica from a picture of the sign.

VIDEO: Coalition of national agencies honors ADOT for US 60 safety project

VIDEO: Coalition of national agencies honors ADOT for US 60 safety project

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VIDEO: Coalition of national agencies honors ADOT for US 60 safety project

VIDEO: Coalition of national agencies honors ADOT for US 60 safety project

February 11, 2019

By Doug Nintzel / ADOT Communications

It wasn’t the Oscars, and, more importantly, it was about highway safety. As the video above shows, ADOT was in the spotlight at a recent ceremony in Washington D.C., when a national group honored one of the agency’s creative safety solutions.

The National Operations Center of Excellence presented its Best Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) Project Award to ADOT’s US 60 Superstition Freeway Improvement Project in Tempe. Representatives of ADOT’s own Transportation Systems Management and Operations division were on hand to accept the honor.

For the Superstition Freeway project, an ADOT team evaluated a section of westbound US 60 between Mill Avenue and the I-10 interchange where a concerning number of crashes, most of them minor, had resulted backups during busy periods.

In collaboration with the city of Tempe and the Arizona Department of Public Safety, ADOT adjusted lane striping and installed new signs along that stretch of westbound US 60 in summer 2018. The result: improved traffic flow in the left lanes, leading to a significant reduction in crashes. The video features an ADOT engineer who worked on this project explaining its effects.

The National Operations Center of Excellence serves as a nationwide resource for the Transportation Systems Management and Operations community. Its partners include the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America and Institute of Transportation Engineers. The Federal Highway Administration also supports the effort.

ADOT’s Interstate 17 Wrong-Way Vehicle Alert System being tested in Phoenix also received a national runner-up award in the competition.

Huzzah! ADOT engineers help reduce US 60 delays from Renaissance Festival

Huzzah! ADOT engineers help reduce US 60 delays from Renaissance Festival

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Huzzah! ADOT engineers help reduce US 60 delays from Renaissance Festival

Huzzah! ADOT engineers help reduce US 60 delays from Renaissance Festival

February 8, 2019

By Garin Groff / ADOT Communications

The Renaissance is known for its advances in science, art and culture, among its many historic accomplishments.

So with an annual festival celebrating the Renaissance drawing heavy traffic along US 60 near Gold Canyon, ADOT has turned to the very modern science of traffic engineering to help reduce delays not only for attendees but for residents and visitors heading to and from areas east of the venue.

These improvements, introduced last year, are returning when the Arizona Renaissance Festival kicks off its 2019 run on Saturday.

The most noticeable improvement helps address eastbound traffic as people head to the festival in the morning. Traffic backups on eastbound US 60 have reached up to 11 miles in recent years. Thanks to some traffic-management changes made in partnership with festival organizers, the queue shrank to less than 3 miles last year.

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This benefit results from two changes where US 60 reaches the festival gates, said Tony Abbo, an ADOT traffic engineer who oversaw the effort.

The festival added a small section of asphalt at the west gate so vehicles could turn into the facility more efficiently. Also, a crossover was added in the median at the eastern gate so westbound drivers had a direct turn into the event grounds. Previously, delays were exacerbated by those drivers making U-turns to merge with eastbound traffic.

The improvement won’t just benefit Renaissance Festival attendees. Based on last year's travel time studies, drivers who were just passing through the area toward places like Superior or Globe saw delays drop to about 8 minutes compared with other non-event weekends.

ADOT monitored and fine-tuned throughout last year’s event with help from a drone.

Our engineers will continue monitoring traffic until the event ends March 31 to determine if further improvements can be made this year or in the future.

2019 will be busy year for ADOT in southern Arizona

2019 will be busy year for ADOT in southern Arizona

I-17 101 traffic interchange

2019 will be busy year for ADOT in southern Arizona

2019 will be busy year for ADOT in southern Arizona

January 28, 2019

PHOENIX ‒ Widening the last two stretches of Interstate 10 between Casa Grande and Tucson that remain two lanes in each direction. Opening a modern Ina Road traffic interchange with Interstate 10 in Marana. Launching a major upgrade to State Route 189, the 3.75-mile Nogales highway essential to trade with Mexico.

These are just some of the Arizona Department of Transportation projects finishing or starting in 2019 that are designed to make travel safer and more efficient in southern Arizona.

Four major projects that received a great deal of attention in 2018 are scheduled for completion this year:

  • ina-ew-aerial-1-28-19
    A new I-10 interchange is on track to open this spring carrying Ina Road traffic over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and greatly improving mobility and safety in a growing area northwest of Tucson. This $128 million project also is widening Ina Road to two lanes in each direction from I-10 west over new bridges crossing the Santa Cruz River, with full project completion expected this summer.
  • Crews will finish widening 4 miles of I-10 in Casa Grande between Earley Road and Interstate 8. This $43 million project, scheduled for completion by late summer, includes replacing the original bridges over Jimmie Kerr Boulevard to accommodate three lanes in each direction.
  • Between Eloy and Picacho, crews are scheduled to complete a $72 million project widening 4 miles of I-10 to three lanes in each direction by creating new travel lanes. The improvements include a new State Route 87 interchange and a first-of-its-kind dust detection zone on 10 miles of I-10 to provide drivers with crucial safety information during dust storms. Completion is scheduled for late summer.
  • A $55 million overpass that will carry State Route 347 traffic over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in Maricopa is scheduled for completion by the end of 2019.

Design work is set to begin by June on the largest project of 2019: a $134 million upgrade of State Route 189, which connects the Mariposa Port of Entry with Interstate 19 in Nogales and carries a large share of produce entering the United States. Planned upgrades include flyover ramps to make a smoother transition between SR 189 and I-19 and a bridge over Frank Reed Road that will improve safety near Nogales High School. The two-year project is expected to be completed in 2021.

In Tucson, construction is scheduled begin this summer on a new interchange at I-10 at Ruthrauff Road. The $101 million, two-year project will be similar to interchange improvements at Ina and Prince roads.

Other major projects expected to begin in 2019 include replacing the 70-year-old Pinto Creek Bridge on US 60 east of Superior and repaving a 7-mile section of State Route 95 north of Parker. Bidding for the Pinto Creek work will take place early this year, while paving on SR 95 began earlier this month and is expected to continue until fall.

For more information on these projects, please visit azdot.gov/projects.

Throwback Thursday: Globe in the horse-and-buggy era

Throwback Thursday: Globe in the horse-and-buggy era

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Throwback Thursday: Globe in the horse-and-buggy era

Throwback Thursday: Globe in the horse-and-buggy era

December 13, 2018

Trust Building and Court House, 1906

By David Woodfill / ADOT Communications

For this Throwback Thursday, we offer this undated, grainy image of the old commercial district of Globe, complete with a horse and buggy.

The photo is actually a copy of a postcard found on a negative in ADOT's archives. We can only assume it's from before or in the earliest days of the state highway system.

The trust building is long gone, but the courthouse still stands on Broad Street, part of which is now US 60. Designed by architect W.R. Norton, the Gila County Courthouse opened in 1906 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lane changes enhance safety along US 60 West in Tempe

Lane changes enhance safety along US 60 West in Tempe

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Lane changes enhance safety along US 60 West in Tempe

Lane changes enhance safety along US 60 West in Tempe

August 21, 2018

PHOENIX – Just over a month since the Arizona Department of Transportation made lane adjustments and installed new signs as part of a safety project along westbound US 60 (Superstition Freeway) in Tempe, the results have been positive.

Here’s a comment from just one of the US 60 drivers who travel westbound US 60 approaching the Interstate 10 interchange: “You fixed it! I don’t often write notes like this, but I know a job well done when I see it….well done, ADOT!”

In mid-July, ADOT crews changed lane striping to allow a second left lane along westbound US 60 to connect with the ramp to eastbound I-10 toward Tucson. The goal: improving the overall flow of traffic in the Superstition Freeway’s left lanes and reducing the risk of often minor rear-end collisions.

“It’s worked out as our team planned,” said Dallas Hammit, ADOT’s state engineer and deputy director for transportation. “Drivers have reacted favorably to the lane adjustments and new signs in that area between Rural Road and I-10. The improved traffic flow provides more room for drivers to merge between lanes.”

ADOT’s Transportation Systems Management and Operations Division partnered with the city of Tempe and Arizona Department of Public Safety in studying and implementing safety measures along the busy stretch of westbound US 60 approaching I-10.

“The troopers patrolling this area have seen a noticeable difference in traffic conditions following ADOT’s restriping project,” said AZDPS Captain Chad Hinderliter. “Although these efforts are yielding positive results, drivers still need to stay alert and drive defensively.”

In recent years, most crashes in the area have been minor fender benders. However, the disruption of freeway traffic, especially during rush hour, can be frustrating and costly for other commuters.

“This is having a positive effect on safety and rush hour traffic,” said Kerry Wilcoxon, ADOT’s state traffic safety engineer. “Areas where one freeway connects with another can present challenges. But we’re pleased with what we’ve seen in the past month along westbound US 60.”

Last year, ADOT evaluated US 60 traffic by closing the westbound on-ramp at Mill Avenue for one weekend. Observations about traffic movements helped lead to the decision to adjust the freeway lane assignments in July.

In 2016, freeway crews installed vertical lane delineator posts next to the westbound US 60 HOV lane to limit sudden lane changes approaching the I-10 traffic interchange.

Updated schedule to complete US 60 widening project in Show Low

Updated schedule to complete US 60 widening project in Show Low

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Updated schedule to complete US 60 widening project in Show Low

Updated schedule to complete US 60 widening project in Show Low

June 18, 2018

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Transportation will be conducting final paving on a newly widened stretch of US 60 between State Route 77 and 40th Street in Show Low beginning Thursday, June 21.

On Thursday and Friday, June 22, travel on US 60 east of SR 77 from Adams Road to 40th Street will be restricted to one lane in each direction while crews pave. This same restriction will be in place Wednesday, June 27 through Friday, June 29.

On Monday, June 25, beginning at 8 p.m., the intersection of US 60 and SR 77, locally known as Penrod Road, will be closed overnight for final paving until 4 a.m. Tuesday, June 26.

Drivers should plan extra travel time and seek alternate routes to avoid heavy traffic delays.

This $7 million project widened US 60, locally known as Deuce of Clubs, between SR 77 and 40th Street to alleviate traffic in the area. The project also included upgraded signals and lighting as well as dual left-turn lanes at the US 60/SR 77 intersection.

ADOT works to inform the public about planned highway restrictions, but there is a possibility that unscheduled closures or restrictions may occur. Weather can also affect a project schedule. To stay up-to-date with the latest highway conditions around the state, visit the ADOT Traveler Information Center at az511.gov or call 511.

Throwback Thursday: Public meetings and posters

Throwback Thursday: Public meetings and posters

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Throwback Thursday: Public meetings and posters

Throwback Thursday: Public meetings and posters

May 17, 2018

Globe Interchange Map

By David Rookhuyzen / ADOT Communications

The visuals may be a little better these days, but there’s definitely a lot to recognize in this map presented at a 1971 public hearing on a proposed connector for US 60 and US 70 in Globe.

The current route of US 60 between the metro Phoenix area and Superior, Miami and Globe was mostly determined in the 1940s and 1950s. Between Miami and Globe, most of the route was built and modernized to four lanes using existing city streets in the 1950s. In Globe in particular, that meant mainly Hill Street. That finally changed in 1977 when the highway was moved off the narrow city streets to the route that exists today.

According to a 1971 Draft Environmental Impact Statement produced by the Arizona Highway Department (the precursor to ADOT) and the Federal Highway Administration, the goal of the road realignment was a “safer, more capacious through route” that would address congestion in Globe “produced by the hazardous convergence of local and foreign traffic…” Average daily traffic on the highway at the time was calculated at 10,000 vehicles per day, the document says.

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Map at Globe public meeting

Part of the problem, according to statement, is the speed limit dropped from 50 to 60 mph, on either side of Globe, to 25 mph in the more congested parts of the city. Two 90-degree turns at intersections were another challenge. The road was also prone to complete stoppage due to vehicles trying to make a left-hand turn off the highway.

Some thought was given to widening and resurfacing the existing highway, and to adding more traffic signals, but that was deemed unfeasible because of the heavy volume of traffic. The Arizona Highway Department also offered a slightly tweaked alternate route around downtown Globe as a possibility.

A public meeting was scheduled for April 28, 1971, in the American Legion Building on Broad Street in Globe to talk about the proposed connector.

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Globe public meeting attendees

And that’s what this photo is about – meeting with locals to discuss the road’s new alignment. You can see the public turnout (and presumable interest) for yourself.

Much has changed since this meeting – including our name and definitely the quality of our poster boards ­– but the one constant is our commitment to gathering public input to design the best improvements for you.

Just a few recent examples of this: Last month, ADOT held a public meeting in Black Canyon City to discuss improvements to Interstate 17 between Anthem and Cordes Junction. The agency held two public meetings in Flagstaff on May 3 and May 10 to discuss US 180 and Milton Road. It also has two upcoming meetings planned on May 22 and May 30 in Ahwatukee and Laveen to discuss two additional interchanges under consideration for the South Mountain Freeway.

So next time we advertise a public meeting, know that we are committed to hearing from you about what you want in your roadways – and that we do a better job taping maps to walls now.

Updated: US 60 West restricted at night east of Loop 101

Updated: US 60 West restricted at night east of Loop 101

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Updated: US 60 West restricted at night east of Loop 101

Updated: US 60 West restricted at night east of Loop 101

April 4, 2018

PHOENIX – Sections of westbound US 60 (Superstition Freeway) east of Loop 101 in the Mesa area will be restricted Sunday through Thursday nights through April 13 for pavement-improvement work, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. Overnight closures of US 60 on- or off-ramps also are scheduled within the work zones.

The restrictions and locations are subject to change due to inclement weather or other factors, including progress on the overnight pavement improvements. Drivers should use caution and be prepared to slow down and merge safely while the following overnight restrictions are in place:

  • Updated: Westbound US 60 narrowed to two or three lanes overnight in areas between Crismon Road and Country Club Drive from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday nights (April 4-5). Westbound US 60 on- or off-ramps within the overnight work zones also will be closed at times.
  • Updated: Westbound US 60 narrowed to three lanes overnight in areas between Gilbert Road and Country Club Drive from 9 p.m. Sunday to 4 a.m. Monday (April 9). Westbound US 60 on- or off-ramps within the overnight work zones also will be closed at times.
  • Updated: Westbound US 60 narrowed to three lanes overnight in areas between Loop 202 and Gilbert Road from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday nights (April 10-12).
  • Updated: Westbound US 60 narrowed to one or two lanes overnight in areas between Crismon and Power roads from 9 p.m. Thursday to 4 a.m. Friday (April 13). Westbound US 60 on- or off-ramps within the overnight work zones will be closed at times.

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.

US 60/Country Club ramps restricted starting this week

US 60/Country Club ramps restricted starting this week

I-17 101 traffic interchange

US 60/Country Club ramps restricted starting this week

US 60/Country Club ramps restricted starting this week

February 5, 2018

PHOENIX – Drivers should plan on midday restrictions along the US 60 (Superstition Freeway) on- and off-ramps at Country Club Drive in Mesa starting Wednesday, Feb. 7, while crews replace pavement at the interchange.

The Arizona Department of Transportation has scheduled the weekday work for two weeks. No weekend work is scheduled. Drivers should consider using alternate routes while the following restrictions are in place:

  • US 60 (Superstition Freeway) on- and off-ramps at Country Club Drive restricted (right lanes closed) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays from Wednesday, Feb. 7, to Wednesday, Feb. 21. Country Club Drive also will be narrowed in both directions between Iron Avenue and Holmes Street near US 60 while the pavement improvement work is taking place. DETOUR: Drivers can consider using the US 60 on- or off-ramps at Alma School Road or Mesa Drive as alternate routes while the ramps at Country Club Drive are restricted.

Work and restriction schedules are subject to change due to inclement weather or other factors.

Updated highway conditions are available on ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov, by calling 511 and through ADOT’s Twitter feed, @ArizonaDOT.