Grand opening, cutting red ribbon

"Even if the freeway is officially opened by the end of this month, considerable work still needs to be done."

Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski apparently jumped the gun by announcing on social media a party will be held Dec. 21 to open the South Mountain Freeway.

”We have not yet made an announcement about any events. When I have something to share, I will,” said Tom Herrmann, Arizona Department of Transportation spokesman.

Nowakowski posted on various social media sites a confusing graphic showing a map of the 22-mile freeway with an arrow pointing to Elliot Road and the I-10 and text said people will be able to walk, run, bike and otherwise party along the freeway.

Some ADOT representatives previously told lawmakers, privately, the freeway will open the week of Dec. 20.

But at the Nov. 18 meeting of the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee, an ADOT representative who appeared for a freeway project update said no opening date has been set.

The representative said there would likely be a party similar to those held in the past to mark the opening of other freeway segments in Maricopa County.

The $1.7-billion, eight-lane freeway will connect the Chandler and West 59th Street interchanges of Interstate 10.

Although stretches of the freeway appear to still need paving, ADOT is hoping its deadline for end-of-the-year completion will be met by Connect202Partners, is the consortium of builders designing and building the freeway.

Even if the freeway is officially opened by the end of this month, considerable work still needs to be done.

“After the freeway opens, our primary work will include the 32nd Street interchange, constructing the multi-use path and landscaping, along with some other tasks,” Herrmann said. 

“The multi-use path and the 32nd Street interchanged are expected to be completed next summer.”

The interchange was added to the project last year after an ADOT survey showed strong public support for it. 

The agency had dropped plans for it five years ago after a citizens advisory group had urged no interchange at 32nd, ADOT said.

Herrmann also said the half-divergent diamond interchanges at 17th Avenue and Desert Foothills Parkway appear to be giving motorists no problems.

Those interchanges, used on freeways in a few other states, are the first of their kind in Arizona.

“I’ve had the chance to observe and traffic is moving nicely at both locations,” Herrmann said.

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