Freeway Update

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We’ll hear from the Arizona Department of Transportation about progress on freeway construction in 2013 and freeway plans it has for this year.

Ted Simons: The Phoenix area's freeway system continues to grow. Here to give us an update on current and future projects is Rob Samour, senior deputy state engineer for the Arizona Department of Transportation. Good to see you again.

Rob Samour : Thank you, good to be back.

Ted Simons: Freeway openings last year. What did we see out there?

Rob Samour : So we had the opportunity to make a lot of progress on the . So there were a number of projects, six in the corridor of which we've now completed four of those projects and motorists are able to enjoy those new widened lanes with the quieter asphalt pavement, rubberized asphalt pavement on the 303.

Ted Simons: Before we get to the particulars here, compare with what we expect in .

Rob Samour: So in , we'll continue construction on those remaining sections of the 303 but we'll also see some ground breaking on some bigger projects around the valley which will continue to help motorists with their daily commutes.

Ted Simons: Let me throw some things out here, the loop 101 , this is an HOV ramp from Bethany home to Glendale. Talk to us about that project.

Rob Samour: So a couple of years ago, there was a partnership between the Maricopa association of governments, Glendale's interest in additional access to the stadium so we put out a project in advance of the 2015 Super Bowl to construct HOV connectors to the existing Maryland road interchange. That is a unique interchange, or bridge, because it services just the HOV or that center high-occupancy vehicle lane and it will allow greater access in and around the venue at the sports arena.

Ted Simons: Completion date again?

Rob Samour : We should done sometime this summer, well in advance of the football season.

Ted Simons: I'm not out there as often as I used to be, traffic problems out there?
Rob Samour : Interestingly enough the HOV construction online occurs in the median so our contractor has found a unique way to limit any disruptions to the main line. There might be some interruption of the hov lane itself.

Ted Simons: There's a widening project on the from shay all the way up to the 202 . What's going on with this one?

Rob Samour: The map will show from shay boulevard down to the loop 202 red mountain freeway we're going to add a general-purpose lane to the outside. Construction should probably start sometime late this summer, we'll advertise for contractors late this spring. It will essentially add about miles of general purpose lane or one additional lane in each direction through that corridor.

Ted Simons: Now, that's southbound but northbound is it the same road or a little bit higher up there?

Rob Samour: And , just using general cross streets, it will be north to shay boulevard.

Ted Simons: So both sides of that which is already just a massive freeway, going to get one more lane.

Rob Samour: That's correct.

Ted Simons: What kind of restrictions?

Rob Samour: Motorists shouldn't see any reduced capacity in terms of lanes. There may be restrictions to set up barriers and other safety appurtenances to allow our contractor to work to the outside but in general, we'll try to keep the same number of lanes in construction, maybe restrict them in their overall width.

Ted Simons: Time line?

Rob Samour: I would say that project probably has months to two year duration. If we advertise this spring, contractor starts in the summer of '14, we should see completion by early '16.

Ted Simons: So starting this summer.

Rob Samour: That's correct.

Ted Simons: The 303 from I-10 from the map again from I- 10 to just short of grand avenue, explain what's going on here.

Rob Samour: Right so what your viewers are seeing are a number of segments, some that are completed, some that are still under construction. We had a total of six projects in that corridor that started as far back as . We have now completed four of those. The remaining projects to complete are the system interchange at I-10 and there will be a section from camel back to Glendale that will open here very quickly this spring. So we've invested approximately $500 million in that corridor for construction, landscape projects will follow behind, similar to most of the freeways in the valley. We landscape them with granite. So motorists towards the end of this year will have the with connectivity to the interstate so that corridor will be complete up to grand avenue.

Ted Simons: It looks as though I-17 to happy valley, is that completed? That's a done deal?

Rob Samour: So I-17 in north Phoenix to happy valley and Peoria did receive its initial two lanes in each direction. So four lane divided. And it is complete as far as the current program goes. That would leave the section essentially from happy valley down to U.S. with a number of projects and you mentioned projects to break ground that will break ground in .

Ted Simons: And this is I think the map you're talking about, happy valley down to grand avenue. Again, give me the time line again?

Rob Samour: A total of three projects. There's the interchange itself, the U.S 60. And 303 . There is the main line construction from U.S. 60 up to happy valley, both in Peoria, and then there's going to be an interchange that's not shown on your map at el mirage and that will be a stand-alone project. All three of those projects are in design or will be under construction in this year.

Ted Simons: So prepare for those.

Rob Samour: That's correct. They represent about $130 million of additional investment above what's been put in the .

Ted Simons: Speaking of prepare, what is going on with the southbound freeway? Where are we with that?

Rob Samour: The study team went out in May to public hearings right here in downtown Phoenix. We had a public comment period through the summer. We received upwards of , public comments and so for the last six months or so, the team's been responding to public comments on the 303. Along with those comments, we've revised what was called the draft environmental impact statement to include the comments, the revisions to the draft for a final, that will be submitted for additional review with our federal partners. The public will have one more opportunity to comment on that, and then we will submit it to our partners for final approval towards the latter half of this summer. We call that a record of decision.

Ted Simons: Record of decision, latter half of this summer, and then what?

Rob Samour: If the record of decision is favorable towards the preferred alignment, it would mean that we could begin final design. The current options in the study are a no build, which many people have heard of, and the preferred alignment on the road.

Ted Simons: If the preferred alignment is the choice, then what kind of time line?

Rob Samour ; Then we would start our final design. Some projects will go quicker than others. We have a number of mechanisms to put projects on the street. Traditional design bid build which we design it and we advertise it. Design build which allows us to partner with a contractor and design and construction happen simultaneously and then there's a couple of other alternative deliveries that we could choose from. With that said, we would look to start programming those projects out over the next five years. Currently, the design shows nine segments. We may be able to consolidate some of those to expedite construction.

Ted Simons: All right. Before we let you go, I understand that highway 24 out there in the southeast valley, that's got a connector to the202 , is that happening?

Rob Samour: Yes, the 24 is almost complete. Should see that late spring. That will give east valley motorists access to elsworth. It will allow for additional improvements at the mesa gateway airport and help with the overall regional connectivity for multimodal airport to system interchange.

Ted Simons: Very busy times. Good to have you here. Thanks for the update.

Rob Samour: Thanks for having me again.

Rob Samour: Department of Transportation

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