Motorists frustrated with slowdowns while traveling Interstate 17 between Anthem Way and Sunset Point received some welcome news.
The Federal Highway Administration awarded the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) a $90 million grant as part of its Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program. The grant money is to be used to improve this section of interstate that runs just north of Phoenix.
It's a project that residents, and travelers, have sought for years.
"For those who travel north of Anthem on I-17, this will be a welcome improvement," Kristi Northcutt, director of Communications and Public Affairs at the Anthem Community Council, said. "When there is an accident, fire or other issues that cause traffic issues, often traffic will back up as far as Anthem.”
The $90 million is part of an overall $320 million project that will widen 23 miles of I-17. That particular stretch of roadway is a constant headache for motorists because it has been the site of a continuous series of crashes and vehicle incidents, particularly on the weekends, when traffic increases.
“Once complete,” Northcutt said, “it will certainly lessen the pressure between Anthem, Black Canyon City and Sunset Point, and keep things moving along on this critical stretch of highway."
Construction is expected to take two years to complete. It is currently scheduled to begin in 2021.
“I-17 plays a key role in moving people and products in Arizona and national commerce between regional and international markets, including Mexico," ADOT Director John Halikowski said in a release. "There are no reasonable alternative routes when traffic on I-17 is impacted. That’s why this is both a state and national priority.”
The plan currently calls for the construction of flex lanes north of Black Canyon City. These will be used as needed to lessen the congestion at any particular time. Moveable gates will be installed at either end of the 8-mile long flex lanes. The gates will be used to direct traffic in either direction.
“The project will certainly have a multitude of positive impacts once complete, including travel, tourism and commerce, and of course, safety," Northcutt said. "The added third lane between Anthem and Black Canyon City will be game-changing for traffic, especially on weekends and holidays.”
In a release from his office, Gov. Doug Ducey said “Arizona’s fiscally conservative, balanced budget made significant investments in our state’s infrastructure. This additional funding will expand Interstate 17 in a critical commerce corridor, helping reduce congestion, improve traffic flow and increase public safety. My thanks to the Arizona Department of Transportation and all of our regional and federal partners for their hard work and advocacy on behalf of Arizona.”
The Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program is part of a broader initiative from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The program overall is making up to $900 million available for infrastructure upgrades.