ADOT publishes Tentative Long-Range Transportation Plan

After two years of research and analysis, the public now has the opportunity to comment on the Arizona Department of Transportation’s draft long-range plan, outlining strategies for meeting the state’s highway and bridge needs over the next 25 years.

ADOT’s Tentative Long-Range Transportation Plan, which is required to be updated every five years, is available for comment through Dec. 21 and can be reviewed at azdot.gov/WhatMovesYouArizona. The CiviComment online tool, which is also available on the project website, allows users to comment on the full report or comment on individual pages pulled from the document. The direct link to CiviComment is provided here: whatmovesyouarizona.civicomment.org.

ADOT has spent the past two years drafting this update to the Long-Range Transportation Plan, which looks through 2040. The project team conducted stakeholder outreach, gathered extensive public comment across the state and worked through months of technical analysis.

During the 25-year period of this draft plan, about $923 million in annual highway capital funding will be available from state and federal sources. On average, the Phoenix and Tucson regions are expected to receive $512 million annually. Of that, $223 million comes from voter-approved regional programs in those two metropolitan areas dedicated largely to highway expansion. ADOT’s Recommended Investment Choice calls for all of the remaining annual average of $411 million to go toward preserving and modernizing highways in Greater Arizona.

The recommendation outlined in the Tentative Long-Range Transportation Plan is in line with public and stakeholder outreach, in which most participants listed preservation, safety and modernization projects as their highest priorities for Greater Arizona.

The State Transportation Board approved the Tentative 2040 Long-Range Transportation Plan on Oct. 20, allowing it to move forward for public review and comment. The Long-Range Transportation Plan is expected to be finalized in early 2018.

Comments can also be sent to:

  1. ADOT Project Information Line: 1.855.712.8530
  2. Mail:
    Long-Range Transportation Plan
    c/o ADOT Communications
    1655 W. Jackson St., Mail Drop 126F
    Phoenix, AZ 85007

State Route 473 to Hawley Lake closing for the winter

PHOENIX ‒ State Route 473 leading to Hawley Lake in the White Mountains will close for the winter on Thursday, November 16, at its junction with State Route 260, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

The 10-mile-long highway east of Pinetop-Lakeside will remain closed until at least April 15.

Other high-country state highways that will close over the next six weeks include SR 67 leading to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. That route, traveling 43 miles south from US 89A, will close Friday, December 1, unless a major snowstorm occurs before then.

With park facilities closed for the winter, ADOT doesn’t plow SR 67, which will be blocked about a half mile south of US 89A at Jacob Lake. It’s scheduled to reopen in mid-May along with North Rim lodges, campgrounds and other amenities.

State Route 64 remains open all year to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.

Other winter closures include State Route 273 past Sunrise Park and State Route 261 west of Eagar, which are scheduled for Thursday, December 28, unless a severe storm happens sooner.

In southeastern Arizona, the upper, unpaved portion of SR 366 that leads to Mount Graham near Safford has already closed for winter. Motorized vehicles aren’t allowed on SR 366 past a locked gate a half mile past the Coronado National Forest’s Shannon Campground, but hikers, mountain bikers and cross-country skiers can still use the area.

State routes 366, 273 and 262 will reopen in the spring.

Tips on winter driving are available at azdot.gov/KnowSnow.

Arizona recognizes Traffic Incident Management Awareness Week

PHOENIX – From minor incidents on high-volume freeways to serious collisions on lightly-traveled rural roads and everything in between, Traffic Incident Management keeps the traveling public moving and safe after incidents occur.

This week, the Arizona Department of Transportation and Arizona Department of Public Safety join other states and municipalities across the country in recognizing Traffic Incident Management Awareness Week.

Nearly 350 vehicle crashes occur every day in Arizona and most will be visited by emergency responders, which can include law enforcement, fire departments, medical services, transportation crews and tow trucks. Different responders have different duties on scene – some tend to victims and others gather information about the incident, while others removed damaged vehicles and clear space to make travel safer for other motorists – but all are practicing Traffic Incident Management (TIM).

“Safety is our top priority and when there’s an incident we’re looking out for three groups of people,” said Derek Arnson, ADOT’s Traffic Management Group manager. “The people involved in the crash, the emergency responders and the traveling public. TIM practices and strategies help us keep those people safe and traffic moving.”

The traveling public can contribute to that safety – for themselves and others – in two simple ways: “Quick Clearance” and “Move Over.”

“Quick Clearance” is a state law that requires a driver involved in a minor crash without injuries to remove their vehicle from the roadway if it is operable and can be moved safely. No one wants to be in this situation, but with a vehicle crash occurring about every four minutes in Arizona, everyone should know how best to stay safe following a minor, non-injury collision.

“First responders throughout Arizona use TIM strategies to improve citizen and responder safety, reduce secondary collisions and reduce traffic congestion,” said Major Deston Coleman of the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Highway Patrol Division. “Traffic Incident Management includes training, equipment, technologies and best practices that improve efficiency and effectiveness during large- and small-scale incidents that affect Arizona roadways. The teamwork of law enforcement, fire, EMS, towing, transportation and public safety agencies shows Arizona’s leadership and commitment to safety while improving quality of life. Citizens can carry out their daily activities, goods and freight supporting Arizona’s economy get to their destinations, and people go home safely. It’s a win for everyone.”

Arizona’s “Move Over” law requires motorists to move over one lane – or slow down if it’s not safe to change lanes – when approaching any vehicle with flashing lights pulled to the side of a road or highway.

Remember, if you are involved in a crash, the first action to take is to make sure you and occupants in your vehicle are OK. Then, if your vehicle is operable, move to the emergency shoulder, median or exit the highway and call 911. Stay out of travel lanes, be alert and watch approaching traffic. Never leave the scene of a crash.

Arizona Highways takes home 10 top prizes in prestigious awards

PHOENIX ‒ Arizona Highways has won 10 top prizes, including Magazine Writer of the Year and Photographer of the Year, from the International Regional Magazine Association.

At the association’s recent meeting in Banff, Canada, the Arizona Department of Transportation-produced magazine took home 22 awards in all, the most in the competition, and was a finalist for Magazine of the Year for work published in 2016.

“State highways are key commerce corridors not only because of commercial travel but because so many are drawn to the beauty of Arizona’s open spaces,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “Arizona Highways has been an ambassador to people around the world for almost 100 years, and it continues to excel.”

Frequent Arizona Highways contributor Matt Jaffe won Magazine Writer of the Year for pieces about the history of thick-billed parrots in Arizona, the David and Gladys Wright House in Phoenix, trading posts still operating on tribal lands and historic fire lookouts.

Adam Schallau, who specializes in photos of the Grand Canyon, won Photographer of the Year for several of his appearances in Arizona Highways.

Other 2014 gold winners in writing were:

Public Issues: Terry Greene Sterling, “Cutting It Down to Size”
Historic Feature: Matt Jaffe, “Quite Wright”
Essay: Craig Childs, “The Sound of Fallen Trees”
General Feature: Annette McGivney, “Across the Great Divide”
Department: Staff and contributors, “The Journal”
Photo Series: Multiple photographers, “This Land is Your Land”
Portrait Photo: David Zickl, “Out of the Ordinary”
Portrait Series: David Zickl, “Getting Your Face Wet”

The International Regional Magazine Association was founded in 1960 to support and promote regional magazines in the United States and elsewhere.

Founded in 1925, Arizona Highways is dedicated to promoting travel to and through the state of Arizona. In addition to the world-renowned magazine known for spectacular landscape photography, Arizona Highways publishes travel guide books, calendars and other products to promote travel in Arizona. The magazine has subscribers in all 50 states and more than 110 countries.

Learn more at ArizonaHighways.com.

Arizona DOT launches ‘ADOT Alerts’ free travel app

PHOENIX – Available now for your mobile device: A free app from the Arizona Department of Transportation that will help you avoid unplanned and lengthy travel delays, and other serious highway hazards.

ADOT Alerts will help keep drivers moving on Arizona’s highways and away from potentially dangerous situations by providing information to drivers before they are trapped on a highway closed because of a crash or severe weather. Using geofencing technology, ADOT will send alerts to mobile devices with the app in affected areas and in advance of roadway decision points, giving the public plenty of time to choose an alternate route or delay their travel plans and avoid sitting in lengthy backups.

“We’re excited about ADOT Alerts because the app will help us quickly get critical information directly to motorists,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “With that information, travelers can make a decision to take a different route or stop somewhere for a bite to eat or stay where they’re at, and avoid sitting in a long backup because of an unplanned event, like a serious crash that closes a highway. We can also alert motorists to public safety issues, like wrong-way vehicles or severe weather affecting state highways.”

ADOT Alerts goes beyond providing daily commuting reports and travel times – ADOT already provides that kind of real-time information to drivers via overhead message boards and social media, not to mention the numerous traffic and navigation apps that also offer that kind of information. By using geofencing, ADOT can send alerts only to mobile devices with the app in an impacted area. That means affected motorists can make a decision to re-route or delay their travel plans long before encountering a traffic backup.

All alerts are sent by a public information officer at ADOT’s Traffic Operations Center to ensure they are accurate, critical in nature and appropriately targeted to a geographic area.

To get the most out of ADOT Alerts, enable Location Services and Push Notifications so you can be immediately notified of the most relevant alerts in your area. That way, whenever ADOT sends an alert to an area your mobile device is in, it will pop up on your device’s screen with a distinctive alert sound.

Users do not have to sign up, register or create a log-in to use the app. You remain 100 percent anonymous.

The app can be downloaded free of charge in Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Search for “ADOT Alerts” in the respective app store.

“The introduction of the ADOT Alerts app is one more way ADOT is working to promote highway safety and reduce frustrations for drivers,” Halikowski said. “We want drivers to be informed about issues, knowledgeable about options, and up-to-date on hazards. We hope this app – along with AZ511 and our social media outreach – will prove to be a major advancement in our efforts to connect with drivers.”

More information about the app can be found at ADOTAlerts.com.

ADOT seeks public input on options for US 60 bridge at Pinto Creek

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Transportation is seeking public input on options for the US 60 bridge over Pinto Creek, including the agency’s decision to pursue removing and replacing the structure.

Built in 1949, the 637-foot-long Pinto Creek Bridge, located east of the Valley between Superior and Miami, no longer meets minimum standards set by the Federal Highway Administration, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and ADOT’s bridge design guidelines. Though it continues to be safe for traffic, the structure is considered structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.

In accordance with federal law governing proposed transportation projects involving sites with historic significance, ADOT is seeking public input on possible courses of action for the Pinto Creek Bridge. These are:

  • Building a new bridge and removing the existing bridge, the action that ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration have decided to pursue
  • Rehabilitating the existing bridge
  • Building a new bridge and rehabilitating the existing bridge
  • Taking no action

The Arizona Federal Highway Administration office has completed a report, Programmatic Section 4(f) Evaluation and Approval for FHWA Projects that Necessitate the Use of Historic Bridges, which is posted at azdot.gov/PintoCreekBridge. Comments can be submitted by email to PintoCreek@azdot.gov, by calling the ADOT Project Information Line at 855.712.8530 or by mail to:

ADOT Communications
1655 W. Jackson St., MD 126F
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Comments must be received by December 8 to be included in the official project record.

ADOT applies for TIGER grant to expand SR 189 project starting in 2019

NOGALES ‒ The Arizona Department of Transportation has applied for a $25 million federal TIGER grant to allow construction of all proposed improvements to State Route 189 in Nogales at the same time, beginning in 2019.

The $25 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant would go toward construction of a southbound flyover ramp at Interstate 19 in addition to the northbound flyover ramp that’s currently funded, as well as a bridge over Frank Reed Road and other improvements to the 3.75-mile route connecting the Mariposa Port of Entry with I-19.

“ADOT is committed to working creatively with the community to accelerate State Route 189 improvements and better support trade between the U.S. and Mexico,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “Seeking this TIGER grant is one way we’re seeking to move forward sooner with all proposed enhancements to a route vital to international commerce and to the community of Nogales.”

ADOT currently has funding for the first phase the project, which includes a flyover ramp connecting northbound SR 189 and northbound I-19, along with other improvements. A $25 million commitment from the Arizona Legislature signed by Governor Doug Ducey allowed ADOT to begin construction in 2019, two years earlier than originally planned.

Funding isn’t currently identified for Phase Two, which would include the southbound flyover ramps and a bridge that would carry SR 189 over Frank Reed Road, which leads to Nogales High School. ADOT, Nogales and Santa Cruz County are coordinating efforts on a partnership that could include funding for the Phase Two work.

By allowing construction of both phases to begin at the same time, the TIGER grant would reduce the estimated cost of the full project from $147 million to $134 million.

A $15 million TIGER grant is helping to fund work on the SR 347 bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in Maricopa, which will begin in November. Another TIGER grant of $21.6 million went toward the rehabilitation of Virgin River Bridge No. 6 on Interstate 15 in far northwestern Arizona.

Since 2009, Congress has dedicated nearly $5.1 billion in TIGER grants to fund projects that have a significant impact on the nation, a region or a metropolitan area.

Paving on Interstate 17 near Cordes Junction scheduled next week

The Arizona Department of Transportation is scheduled to begin a paving project next week along a nearly 20-mile section of north- and southbound I-17 north of Phoenix.

Expect delays while traffic is guided through alternating travel lanes and speed is reduced to 55 mph.

Paving is scheduled to occur between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Monday, October 30, and Tuesday, October 31, between milepost 259 (Crown King Road) and milepost 278 (just south of State Route 169).

Drivers should proceed with caution, slow down and watch for construction personnel and equipment.

Westbound Interstate 40 off-ramps at A-1 Mountain restricted early Wednesday

FLAGSTAFF – Northern Arizona drivers exiting westbound I-40 at A-1 Mountain (milepost 191) will need an alternate route during early hours on Wednesday because of guardrail work. The Arizona Department of Transportation advises drivers to allow extra travel time as the nearest interchange–‒at Bellemont–‒is 5 miles to the west.

The A-1 Mountain off-ramp to westbound I-40 will be closed from 4:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 25. Drivers will use westbound I-40 to Bellemont (milepost 185) and turn around at the Bellemont traffic interchange to access eastbound I-40.

Schedules are subject to change based on weather and other unforeseen factors. For more information, please call the ADOT Project Information Line at 855.712.8530 or email Projects@azdot.gov. For real-time highway conditions statewide, visit ADOT’s Traveler Information Site at www.az511.gov, follow ADOT on Twitter (@ArizonaDOT) or call 511, except while driving.

National association honors Interstate 15 bridge project

PHOENIX – A national industry group has honored the Arizona Department of Transportation’s $30 million rehabilitation of an Interstate 15 bridge through the rugged Virgin River Gorge in far northwestern Arizona.

The American Public Works Association selected the Virgin Bridge No. 6 improvement, completed last year, as Project of the Year among transportation projects worth between $25 million and $75 million, with ADOT as the managing agency, Pulice-Wadsworth Brothers Joint Venture as primary contractor and Jacobs as primary consultant.

“This award acknowledges the creativity and cooperation that went into making a critically needed improvement to a vital regional economic corridor,” said Dallas Hammit, ADOT state engineer and deputy director for transportation.

Upgrading the 50-year-old bridge was the centerpiece of $50 million in upgrades to the 30 miles of I-15 passing through Arizona, including paving the entire stretch and repairing the decks of three other bridges.

At Virgin River Bridge No. 6, crews replaced girders, decks and railings and widened the roadway. Accomplishing that required 4,000 cubic yards of structural concrete, 3 million pounds of structural steel, 910,000 pounds of reinforcing steel, 4,000 tons of earth moved and 3,600 tons of asphalt.

A $21.6 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant ADOT won for the project in 2014 provided three years for ADOT to complete the design, for the project to receive environmental clearance and for crews to complete the bridge upgrades.

The project’s challenges also included the rugged, remote location. The bridge stands 100 feet above the Virgin River in a narrow canyon, requiring specialized equipment to work in tight spaces. ADOT and its partners also worked closely with agencies including the Bureau of Land Management, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona State Land Department and Environmental Protection Agency to safeguard the river.

Among other honors, the Virgin River Bridge No. 6 rehabilitation has been named International Partnering Institute Partnered Project of the Year and has received the Marvin M. Black Partnering Excellence Award as part of the Alliant Build America Awards.

ADOT’s current five-year construction program commits $50 million in fiscal 2020 to renovate Virgin River Bridge No. 1 near Littlefield and $5.5 million in fiscal 2019 to rehabilitate other I-15 bridges.