Liberty Lane is slowly returning to normal – but a lot slower than the Arizona Department of Transportation ever anticipated.
Crews this week were to begin restoring two-way traffic after several months of work to relocate a 4-foot-diameter waterline from the path of the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway.
Liberty Lane has been restricted to eastbound traffic on a 1.3-mile stretch between Desert Foothills Parkway and west of 20th Way to provide a safe work zone for the excavation that began in March.
When ADOT started the project in March, it said the line relocation would be finished by June. Then it said fall.
Now, it is saying it won’t be until the end of the year the entire stretch of road will be back to normal.
Starting this week, two-way traffic will be restored “in stages using a temporary configuration,” ADOT said. The work will begin between 12th Street and 18th Way, about three-quarters of the stretch that currently is limited to eastbound traffic.
But once that stretch is opened, Liberty Lane between 18th Way and 20th Way will be closed for approximately three weeks to complete a connection with a city of Phoenix water main.
The portion from 12th Street west to Desert Foothills Parkway is scheduled to return to two-way traffic by the end of the year.
Once the waterline is installed, water and pressure testing will be conducted from mid-November to the end of December. Final resurfacing and lane striping are scheduled to be completed early next year, along with replacement of sidewalks, curbs and gutters.
ADOT has cited three reasons for the long delay.
First, the pipe itself – which had to conform to rigid city specifications – couldn’t be delivered until June by the company that manufactures it.
Thompson Pipe Group in Grand Prairie, Texas, said it needed ADOT to complete its design plans. Because of other orders and because ADOT had to wait for comments on the design by various agencies, including the city Water Services Department, Thompson Pipe was at a standstill on the order.
The pipe is “specifically engineered and manufactured” for the alignment and depth of the Liberty Lane project, Krugel said.
Then came summer, when water use is higher, so the work had to be delayed for several more months.
Geology worsened the delay.
“Dealing with the hardness of rock and a large concentration of underground utilities near Desert Foothills Parkway has slowed work recently,” ADOT said in a release last week. “Special drilling equipment has been used to help break up the rock so workers can excavate a trench for the waterline.”
Approximately 5,500 feet of the 6,700-foot pipe has been placed along Liberty Lane between Desert Foothills Parkway and 20th Way at approximately 15 to 25 feet deep, depending on the overall grade and the need to avoid underground utilities, ADOT said.
The work also created problems for parents of Sierra Elementary students.
Principal Lisa Connor told parents in a letter last week the partial reopening of Liberty Lane “will greatly help our residents who reside in that area” and that the school’s sidewalk like will reopen before the end of this week.
But only one parking lot can be used and only right turns are allowed into it.
“This allows traffic to flow more efficiently and will avoid a gridlock,” she said, urging parents to “follow the posted signs and directions of all staff members.”
She also warned parents who walk their kids to school from Glenhaven Road to use crosswalks for safety and that a police officer would be on hand.
“The predicted timeline to open the front parking lot is now December,” she said. “We are working hard to maintain safe and quick drop off/pick up procedures. We have been able to have similar timeframes for both the morning and afternoon even though we are using one parking lot.”