Arizona budget includes money to expand I-17

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona's next state budget will help pay for building additional lanes along 23 miles of Interstate 17 north of the Phoenix area in two stretches where traffic can be clogged, particularly on summer and holiday weekends and after wrecks.

The project will add so-called two flex lanes that could be used for travel in either direction on 16 miles between Black Canyon City and Sunset Point Rest Area and a third traffic lane in each direction on 7 miles between Anthem and Black Canyon City.

Budget legislation signed May 31 by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey for the fiscal year starting July 1 provides $130 million over three years for the I-17 project. The federal government and the Maricopa Association of Governments also will contribute funding toward the project's estimated total cost of $323 million.

The planned flex lanes on I-17 would operate as a two-lane roadway carrying one direction of traffic at a time depending on the greatest need along a steep portion between Black Canyon City and Sunset Point, the Arizona Department of Transportation said in a statement.

"With gates at each end and separated by concrete barrier from the current southbound lanes, the flex lanes will be able to carrying heavier northbound traffic on a Friday or southbound traffic on a Sunday," the statement said. "They can also keep traffic moving if there is a closure in that stretch."

Other highway projects funded by the budget include a study and design work on widening more of Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Casa Grande by adding a lane in each direction and improving interchanges.

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