Heading north anytime soon? Things are starting to look a bit different along 23 miles of Interstate 17 north of Phoenix as the Arizona Department of Transportation prepares to begin the long-awaited improvement project between Anthem Way and Sunset Point.
While ADOT has not officially begun construction on the Interstate 17 Improvement Project, nighttime lane closures, daytime shoulder closures and speed-limit reductions will be necessary for ADOT and the Kiewit-Fann Joint Venture developer team to carry out pre-construction activities. Those activities include geotechnical boring and drilling, bridge and culvert inspections and survey work.
Assessing underground conditions as part of the geotechnical work will help engineers design the freeway’s pavement, bridges, walls and drainage structures. Information on the soil, including its type, density, moisture content and strength, is essential prior to building any roadway and ensures that roads and bridges are properly designed and maintained to guarantee longevity.
Beginning this week, overhead message boards along the corridor will let drivers know to expect helicopters flying overhead during the daytime hours as they haul workers and equipment to areas that are difficult to access for the geotechnical investigation. Motorists need to pay attention to driving and focus on the road.
Construction on this highly anticipated project will begin later this year and is expected to take approximately three years to complete. The project includes 15 miles of widening from Anthem Way to Black Canyon City and construction of approximately eight miles of flex lanes from Black Canyon City to Sunset Point. Drivers can expect the entire 23 miles to be under construction at once and should plan their trips accordingly.
In the meantime, drivers need to be mindful of the pre-construction work and restrictions as crews prepare for major construction. Since equipment and workers will be present along the side of the highway, ADOT urges motorists to drive safely in the established work zone, which means avoiding all distractions, obeying the posted speed limit and moving over when necessary.
Interstate 17 between Anthem Way and Sunset Point is a major stretch of highway that sees more than one million travelers every year. Because much of that travel and congestion occur on weekends, lane closures will be limited to weeknights from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. All motorists still need to be cautious and alert in the construction zone, which will be active seven days a week through 2025.
More information about the I-17 Improvement Project can be found on the newly launched project website: Improvingi17.com. Drivers can also sign up for traffic alerts via the website and learn more about the project from the frequently asked questions page. A hotline number is also available for anyone with questions or comments: 877.476.1717.
Once complete, the I-17 Improvement Project will help alleviate congestion and improve safety and traffic flow north of the metro-Phoenix region. This project will improve 23 miles of I-17, including 15 miles of roadway widening, two bridge replacements, one bridge deck replacement, 10 bridge widenings, and the installation of an eight-mile flex lane system—a new feature for Arizona’s highway system. Flex lanes are proven technology to help reduce congestion on I-17 during peak travel times and allow for traffic movement during emergency situations.
The I-17 flex lanes will operate as a separate, two-lane roadway carrying one direction of traffic at a time depending on the greatest need along the steep, winding eight miles between Black Canyon City and Sunset Point. For example, the flex lanes will be able to carry heavy northbound traffic on a Friday or heavy southbound traffic on a Sunday. Similarly, ADOT will be able to open the flex lanes to accommodate traffic any time if a crash or other incident causes long delays. The flex lanes will be next to, but physically separated from southbound I-17 using concrete barriers. Access to the flex-lane entrances will be controlled by gates.