Stuck On The I-17? Highway Set To Widen North of Phoenix

By Amanda Luberto
Published: Thursday, June 20, 2019 - 11:02am

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Cars and trucks on I-17
Jackie Hai/KJZZ
Cars and trucks on Interstate 17.

MARK BRODIE: So Steve, even though we had a pretty cool start to the season, summer is now officially here.

STEVE GOLDSTEIN: And Mark, summer in the Valley often means driving the I-17 to northern Arizona to get away from the heat.

BRODIE: It almost feels like sitting on the 17 on a late Sunday afternoon on the way back to Phoenix is kind of a right of passage for many Valley residents.

GOLDSTEIN: But apparently some relief — though not in the form of weather — is on the way as Governor Ducey signed off on an extra $130 million that the state Department of Transportation needed to complete the project to widen I-17 between Anthem ans Sunset Point.

BRODIE: Right now, the interstate is three lanes wide until you get to Anthem Way, when it drops down to two. Dallas Hammit, an ADOT engineer working on the project, says that will change.

DALLAS HAMMIT: What this project will do is it’ll continue that third lane in both north and southbound directions up to Black Canyon City, so we will add approximately 13 new miles of a third lane on Interstate 17.

GOLDSTEIN: Hammit says that between Black Canyon City and Sunset Point, when you start climbing the hill, that’s where the flex lanes will be. A flex lane allows them to switch the lane to go in either direction.

HAMMIT: We will have gates that will open and allow that traffic, so we’ll have four lanes — 2 existing and 2 new flex lanes — to go north to climb the hill, and then on Sunday when everyone’s coming back, we will switch the gates and allow four lanes going south.

BRODIE: He says ADOT is preparing for the geology of the area to tell them if the inner lane or outer lane are the best to expand based on the possibility of rock fall.

GOLDSTEIN: The project has been in discussion for over a decade, but they would have only been able to do half the plan until the funding came through this session.

BRODIE: Construction begins this fall, will happen during the lower traffic hours and is expected to be finished by 2023.

GOLDSTEIN: Well, maybe we'll both drive up north more often. Maybe we can grab some pie.

BRODIE: Field trip!

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