Funding for I-17 expansion approved; construction expected to start in 2021

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- From blueprint to budget approval, funding is finally in place to add new lanes to I-17 north of Phoenix.

People who have ever driven that way may know how packed it can get, especially around holidays and weekends. As crews clear a wreck, a traffic jam can stretch out for miles, which is enough to delay that trip out of town or ruin a return to the Valley.

"Traffic is so bad," said one person. "Everyone coming up on Friday night and leaving Sunday morning, and all it takes is one accident. We've been hit both ways."

The problem is the I-17 is the only sensible way to get up north. Now, after years of talking and planning to make it better, the money is in place from the state and county to make it happen. An ADOT animation shows how there will be permanent third lanes added from Anthem to Black Canyon City, and two flex lanes will parallel the exsisting southbound lanes, stretching from Black Canyon City up to Sunset Point, complete with signs, gates and barriers for safety.

The flex lanes will be similar to the "suicide lanes" that help commuters get into and out of Downtown Phoenix. 7th Avenue opens on extra lanes for communter in the morning. Then reverses it at night to help them get back home.

More than $300 million has been set aside for the project, which should start by 2021 and finish sometime in 2023. There is still talk of making a permanent third lane in both directions from Anthem all the way to Sunset Point. This project as seen as the first step of that possible project in the far future.