Freeway right-of-way acquisition further along than spokeswoman reported - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Freeway right-of-way acquisition further along than spokeswoman reported

June 9th, 2017 development
Freeway right-of-way acquisition further along than spokeswoman reported

By Paul Maryniak


The spokeswoman for the South Mountain Freeway developer apparently could have been clearer when she told Chandler business leaders last month that 47 percent of the highway’s right of way still had to be acquired.

A spokesman for the Arizona Department of Transportation said the 1,387 acres of land it has acquired for the freeway corridor constitutes “90 percent of the total area needed for the project.”

“The total amount of land that ADOT/C202P still needs to acquire on the SMF project is approximately 10 percent of total right-of-way acquisitions needed for the project,” ADOT spokesman Dustin Krugel said.

Theresa Gunn, spokeswoman for Connect 202 Partners (C202P), which is developing and will be maintaining the 22-mile freeway for the next 30 years, told the Chandler Chamber of Commerce on May 12 that 47 percent of right-of-way still had to be acquired.

“What Theresa Gunn was referring to was the percentage of right-of-way that C202P still needs to complete, which was accurate but does not take into account the right-of-way acquisitions that occurred before their involvement,” Krugel explained.

He added that prior to last August, “ADOT had previously negotiated on the right-of-way acquisitions and thus, most of the land needed for the project was acquired before the developer started to handle those responsibilities.”

Most of that remaining 10 percent is in the area of west Phoenix, where the freeway will connect to 59th Avenue, Krugel added.

Meanwhile, ADOT also issued a news release that updated the status of work on freeway bridges over the Salt River at 59th Avenue.

It said work was progressing in the Laveen area on foundations for northbound and southbound spans that will open by late 2019.

The Salt River bridges are two of 40 being built across or as part of the freeway, “and they are by far the longest on the project at approximately 2,700 feet, or about a half-mile long,” according to ADOT.

“More importantly, the bridges will provide another all-weather link to and from Laveen when the Salt River flows while also reducing congestion at current crossings,” it added.

“Building another grade-separated crossing over the Salt River has been a critical transportation need in the growing Laveen area,” said Adam Brahm, the ADOT resident engineer who oversees construction from Lower Buckeye Road to 51st Avenue.

“When nearby low-flow crossings over the Salt River have become impassable, it’s often created significant traffic delays in the area,” he added. “The new Salt River bridges will make it easier for Laveen motorists to get where they need to go.”

Phoenix’s 51st Avenue bridge is already heavily traveled and is the lone all-weather crossing over the Salt River between 35th Avenue and Avondale Boulevard, which is approximately 10 miles west of 35th Avenue.

ADOT noted that when low-flow crossings at 67th and 91st avenues are unavailable, the 51st Avenue bridge is the only available crossing in the area.

Earlier this year, the 67th and 91st avenue crossings were closed when the Salt River Project released excess water from its two reservoirs due to heavy rain and early snowpack melting.

“Progress on the bridge foundations along the Salt River has been swift,” ADOT said. “Large drill rigs have bored holes up to 100 feet deep and towering cranes have lifted steel bar cages weighing more than 14,000 pounds that will create bridge piers.”

The highway agency said it will complete the work “after ADOT receives permit approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees construction in designated waterways.”


(Photo by Arizona Department of Transportation)
A giant drill bores holes for South Mountain Freeway bridge piers in the West Valley.