The Arizona Department of Transportation will begin work this weekend to add High Occupancy Vehicle lanes to the Loop 101, and the result could be major headaches for unprepared motorists.

As part of the construction, Loop 101 will be shut down between Bell Road and Glendale Avenue from tonight until early Monday morning.

Sintra Hoffman, ADOT’s intergovernmental affairs manager, said ADOT has made the project a priority.

“We started the project in January, and we are scheduled to complete it in the fall of this year, so it’s a pretty fast-track project,” she said.

Hoffman said ADOT recognizes the problems lengthy closures could create, especially in the West Valley.

“We recognize that this corridor is an entertainment corridor,” she said. “There is a lot going on in the West Valley, a lot going on along the Loop 101. The intent is to get in and get this done as quickly as possible and as safely as possible.”

Southbound Loop 101 will be closed between Bell Road and Glendale Avenue from 9 p.m. today night until 5 a.m. Monday, while northbouhd lanes will not close until 6 p.m. Saturday and also reopen to traffic Monday morning. The closures will allow ADOT work crews time to set up temporary barriers to restripe the lanes so construction can begin.

The project is estimated to cost $90 million, and Hoffman said the changes will be worth that cost.

“This is huge for the West Valley,” she said. “We’re talking about 30 miles of freeway improvements from I-10 to Tatum Boulevard. Included in that will be median lighting, widening of three bridges at 19th Avenue, 31st Avenue and 35th Avenue and overhead message boards at 67th Avenue and Peoria Avenue.”

Hoffman said ADOT is focusing on one area above all others, an area West Valley motorists all know — and loathe.

“An area of improvement that is particularly important to this region is the Bell Road offramp,” she said. “Whether it’s holiday season, spring training or just Sunday afternoon, the Bell Road offramp is not the friendliest place to be. We will be making some improvements to that area and hopefully you’ll see a really big difference.”

Hoffman said the project should take seven to nine months and will include additional weekend closures, which will follow the same schedule as those taking place this weekend. The speed limit will be reduced to 55 mph for the duration of the project, she said.

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Jeff Dempsey may be reached at 623-876-2531 or

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