Highway projects<br>near completion<br>

PHOENIX — Arizona highways will see a number of improvements this year, the Arizona Department of Transportation reports, but none involve State Route 64.

State Route 64 between Williams and Grand Canyon has seen its share of accidents with travel to the popular national park. Although ADOT has held a few meetings in recent years, no significant projects have yet materialized.

Still, improvements are planned for other key highways around the state, some of which travelers may use en route to northern Arizona.

One major project will be completed in February on State Route 68. A wider four-lane section of the highway along a 13.5-mile stretch between Golden Valley and Bullhead City will open to traffic next month.

With a price tag of $42 million, the project will be completed in less than two years through the use of a Design-Build contract that accelerated construction.

The stretch of road will ease traffic from Interstate 40 near Kingman to Laughlin. ADOT is also making improvements on U.S. 93 from Wickenburg to Kingman, including an already-completed project to provide two new 10-mile stretches of four-lane divided highway.

In Flagstaff, the $22 million Interstate 17-Interstate 40 interchange reconstruction project nears completion. ADOT officials report that the final ramp opened to traffic on Dec. 18 to provide a larger interchange with longer ramps for easier travel in all direction. The finishing work will be done this spring.

In the Sedona area, two new four-lane divided sections of State Route 89A between Cornville Road and Sedona will be completed in the spring at a cost of $29.9 million.

The two sections will extend an already-completed four-lane segment between Cottonwood and Cornville Road, providing 19 miles of divided highway between Cottonwood and Sedona.

Here are various other highway projects ongoing around the state:

o Prescott — One new lane in each direction has been added to SR 69 by the City of Prescott to provide easy access to the new Prescott Regional Mall that will open on March 8 and Prescott Valley has added a westbound lane on SR 69 near Glassford Hill Road for the developing Centre Court commercial area.

Additionally, Prescott has constructed the Prescott Lakes Parkway, providing an inner connection between SR 89 and SR 69 while ADOT and Yavapai County continue construction in the SR 89A/Fain Road corridors for an outer connection between SR 89 and SR 69.

o White Mountains — A 2.5-mile widened section of SR 260 between Pinetop/Lakeside and Hon Dah will be completed in the late spring or early summer, extending a five-lane facility (with a center lane for left turns) that begins in Show Low.

The SR 73 short cut to the White Mountains between U.S. 60 and SR 260 also will be easier to travel because a 2.5-mile segment of five-lane roadway recently was opened to traffic on the north side of Whiteriver.

Additionally, the $5 million reconstruction of U.S. 60 between Miami and Globe, including widening one mile to current standards, will be finished in late spring or early summer, eliminating congestion that has been commonplace during construction that started last August.

o Window Rock — Widening three miles of SR 264 to a five-lane highway between Window Rock and the New Mexico state line will be completed in early summer. A connecting 6.1-mile project just west of Window Rock will be started in February as a four-lane divided highway and completed by Thanksgiving.

o Tucson — The last two projects in the eastbound and westbound I-10 frontage road system between Ruthrauff and I-19 will be completed in 2002. The $14.4 million Congress to Speedway section will be done in February and the $9.7 million Ruthrauff to Sunset section will be finished in the summer. That will set the stage for widening the I-10 mainline to eight lanes, plus auxiliary lanes between interchanges, starting next fall. The estimated cost of the first mainline project is $22.4 million.

The Valencia Road traffic interchange at I-19 on the south side of Tucson will be finished in February, matching a six-lane bridge with six-lane sections of Valencia Road to the east and west and eliminating a bottleneck.

o Yuma — U.S. 95, which is shared by agricultural equipment, commercial trucks and tourist vehicles, will be getting even easier to travel in the new year. The $5.7 million, five-mile Gadsen to Somerton segment will be finished in April, meaning about 10 miles of five-lane roadway will be available to motorists between San Luis and Somerton.

In east Yuma, the I-8/B-8 traffic interchange, known as the "Spaghetti Bowl" to some locals, is being reconstructed into a standard diamond interchange minus a bridge on Avenue 8-E over Interstate 8. ADOT reports that the job will be done in early summer. The bridge will be built later.

o Quartzsite — The new $8.4 million East Quartzsite traffic interchange, which will replace a smaller facility, will fully open to traffic in February, aligning the interchange with local streets leading to the Quartzsite business district and new RV parks.

The $3.8 million widening of SR 95 from B-8 to the north town limits, including a new storm drain system, will be finished by Thanksgiving. The wider highway will move traffic better through a growing commercial area and RV park district.

o Safford — A project to widen two miles of US 70 to a five-lane roadway with a new drainage system between Thatcher and Safford will be completed by Thanksgiving.

o Clifton — Strategic replacements for two old and narrow bridges 600 feet apart on U.S. 191 in Clifton will get under way soon and be finished by this time next year. U.S. 191 carries critical supply and worker traffic for the Phelps Dodge Mine in Morenci.

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