PHOENIX - Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed a bill to approve the expansion of Interstate 10 between Chandler and Casa Grande at a time when Arizona is expanding with more people and industrial projects.
Anyone who has ever driven that 26-mile stretch of I-10 south of the Valley - also known as the Wild Horse Pass Corridor - knows how it bottlenecks between the two cities, which can lead to more traffic, accidents, delays and sometimes death.
It's the only remaining section of I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson that has only two lanes in each direction. This new project will widen the highway to three lanes and extend the HOV lane from Chandler down to Riggs Road in order to decrease congestion.
"I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson is a major artery for our state’s residents and commerce," said bill sponsor Sen. T.J. Shope of Coolidge in a statement. "Many Casa Grande and Coolidge residents use I-10 to commute to Phoenix for work. This expansion alleviates the pressure on our commuters and our businesses."
It's a $700 million project, with $400 million coming from the state. Another $300 million will hopefully come from a federal grant, and according to Gov. Doug Ducey, not at a moment too soon.
"The plan is to get this started next year and with luck be done by 2026," Ducey said.
The project would also improve several interchanges, crossroads and bridges, according to the Arizona Dept. of Transportation.
The Arizona Department of Transportation admits that until the project is completed, traffic will be a mess. The project is scheduled to begin in 2023, and conclude in 2026.
"It’ll be a significant project, and the issues that come with that, including work zones and slower speeds, and obviously, we will do what we can to mitigate that," said Doug Nick.
Engineering and environmental studies will need to be finished first.
Drivers, officials weigh in
For some drivers, like Roxanna Tovares, heading south on the I-10 can be a frightening proposition that is fraught with traffic delays and accidents.
"The traffic just gets close. Then, it just takes longer for us to travel," said Tovares.
Casa Grande's mayor, Craig McFarland, weighed in on the expansionplan.
"We have 64,000 city residents to use the I-10. Without widening it, it will become a parking lot," said McFarland.
More info: http://i10wildhorsepasscorridor.com/
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