A UPS truck passes a digital sign on I-10. PHOTO COURTESY ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services May 2, 2022
Relief may finally be on the way for motorists who get snarled in traffic in the corridor between the state’s two largest cities.
But not just yet.
The state House on Monday gave final approval to spending $400 million to widen an approximately 25 mile stretch of Interstate 10 between Queen Creek Road on the edge of Chandler to State Route 287 outside of Casa Grande to three lanes in each direction. That matches what already exists on either side of the segment.
The Senate already has given its blessing and Gov. Doug Ducey, who asked for the funding in his January State of the State speech, is poised to sign it.
Doug Nick, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said that $400 million won’t complete the job.
But he said that commitment will qualify Arizona to apply for a share of the $ 5 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that is set aside for highway improvement projects. That could add another $300 million.
And Nick said the agency already has $260 million set aside to get the work started, bringing the entire project cost to about $1 billion
That start which could begin as early as next year will be on the pair of quarter-mile two-lane bridges over the Gila River. From there, he said, construction will start in 2024 to the north and south until the entire stretch is upgraded to three lanes.
Anticipated completion is set for 2026.
Nick said that $1 billion figure was crafted to account for inflation. He acknowledged, though, that the current unusually high increase in year-to-year costs for everything could complicate matters if it does not abate.
The state has been widening sections of the interstate, which stretches from Santa Monica, Calif. to Jacksonville, Fla., for years. But the last section has been an issue.