ADOT still foresees end-of-year freeway opening

This photo of work being done on the 40th Street bridge of the South Mountain Freeway was dubbed by the Arizona Depatment of Transportation one of its best photos among thousands taken by the agency along the path of the 22-mile thoroughfare since construction began in 2017.

The South Mountain Freeway is nearly three-quarters complete and is still on target to open this year — though a little later than the Arizona Department of Transportation had originally hoped.

Minutes of the State Transportation Board’s May 17 meeting shows that ADOT Director John Halikowski and district engineer Julie Gadsby reported that 21 of the 22-mile thoroughfare’s 41 bridges are virtually finished and more than 260,000 tons of asphalt has been laid so far.

The eight-lane highway will connect the West 59th Avenue and Chandler interchanges of I-10 and provide a bypass for thousands of cars and trucks around the downtown Phoenix portion of I-10.

“Now that I have to drive in Phoenix several times a week, I am really anxious for the South Mountain Freeway to be completed,” said board member Jack Sellers, who is also a Maricopa County supervisor.

Gadsby said, “Under our original contract, we were supposed to be completed in November.”

But the late decision to add interchanges at 32nd Street in Ahwatukee and Ivanhoe Street in Laveen added some additional time, Gadsby said.

“It’s pushed some things back, but my developer is confident we’re going to open this year, Gadsby said, joking that it would be a Christmas present for Sellers and other board members.

“I will look forward to the grand opening,” Sellers added.

ADOT last week boasted of the work that has gone on during the first half of this year on the 59th Avenue interchange, saying all bridge girders are in place, frontage road construction is underway and an overpass has been built over railroad tracks.

“In the first half of 2019, crews working on this Arizona Department of Transportation project have made significant progress along the Papago segment between Interstate 10 and Lower Buckeye Road,” the agency said in a release.

It noted that the last bridge girder — a whopping 97 feet long and weighing 83,000 pounds — had been laid for the Van Buren Street interchange and that the concrete bridge deck for the Lower Buckeye Road interchange had been completed and the same work was underway at two other nearby interchanges.

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