ADOT has 2 widening options for I-10 in Chandler SanTan Sun News

ADOT has 2 widening options for I-10 in Chandler

December 7th, 2020 Editorial Staff
ADOT has 2 widening options for I-10 in Chandler
Community
38

By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

The Arizona Department of Transportation has proposed a number of infrastructure improvements to the section of Interstate 10 running through Chandler.

After studying the busy freeway and collecting public input for the last year, ADOT officials have several options for reducing congestion and improving safety along that stretch of the highway.

The 26-mile stretch of freeway running between Phoenix and Casa Grande is notorious for being the site of several deadly accidents and backed up traffic.

ADOT launched a study last summer to examine the feasibility of widening I-10 by a couple lanes and refurbishing several overpass bridges.

“The purpose of this study is to increase the capacity of Interstate 10 to meet the projected travel demand and decrease congestion,” said Carlos Lopez, the study’s manager.

The agency has narrowed its options to: not building any additions, adding two lanes in each direction near the median or adding two lanes on the outer edges of the existing freeway.

The third option could be the most expensive, noisy and adversely impact archaeological resources. A no-build option would generate a negative impact on the region’s air quality due to growing amounts of traffic, the agency said.

If ADOT made no changes to the freeway, then the agency believes it will take drivers an extra eight minutes to travel from Casa Grande to Chandler by 2040.

Adding lanes closer to the median appears to pose the most neutral impact on the surrounding environment while still achieving the overall objectives of reducing congestion and improving safety.

ADOT recently finished gathering public input on the options and is drafting its recommendations. The public will be able to review and comment on the agency’s final recommendation once it’s released in late 2021.   

If the state ultimately decides to widen the interstate, ADOT projects it would probably start the project in 2024 by focusing on the 6-mile section of I-10 located between the Loop 202 and Riggs Road.

The rest of the project would get built out in chunks, depending on when funding becomes available.

No cost estimates were released on each option. The agency previously committed at least $50 million to the project and the federal government could potentially offer additional aid.

“There are federal grant opportunities this project could apply to,” Lopez said. “There’s some existing funding along the corridor, but not the entire corridor.”

The study has additionally offered options for redeveloping overpasses and crossroads located at Wild Horse Pass Boulevard, Queen Creek Road, Riggs Road, Nelson Road, Casa Blanca Road, and Dirk Lay Road.

ADOT has crafted four options for redesigning the Riggs Road overpass that involve adding shoulders and sidewalks on the bridge’s edges. One option requires removing the existing bridge and shifting it further south.

The Queen Creek overpass could be turned into a diverging diamond interchange or a displaced left-turn interchange. The former option could have a greater negative impact on the project’s construction costs.

The Casa Blanca overpass has six options for infrastructure improvements that could include roundabouts, adding turn lanes, a split diamond interchange, or replacing the existing bridge.

Lopez said the overpass options will be selected based on whether ADOT recommends widening the freeway.

“As we look to narrow down to a recommended build alternative,” he stated, “it will be a combination of one of the mainline alternatives combined with one of the options from each of the crossroads.”

The issue of expanding I-10 has been a recurring topic among residents for several years, yet state officials were hesitant to study the project until the Gila River Indian Community agreed to participate in the process.

Since the freeway cuts through the tribe’s reservation, Gila River has legal jurisdiction over the land surrounding I-10 and would have to be involved in any infrastructure additions ADOT would want to make in the future.

The tribe’s support had been in question at first since Gila River has not always been welcoming to freeway projects taking place on its land.

Gila River previously took the state to court in an attempt to stop the South Mountain Freeway project from getting built between Chandler and west Phoenix. The tribe’s lawsuit failed with the court ruling in favor of the state.

Gila River Indian Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis expressed support for the I-10 study early on and continues to remain involved in the project’s process.

“This project will benefit the community and our members in a number of ways,” Lewis said, “and provide better access to the community’s businesses and attractions that generate revenue to support our government and members.”

More information on the ADOT project can be found at i10wildhorsepasscorridor.com.

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