If influence from local, regional and state agencies, organizations and politicians has genuine impact, those deadly traffic delays on I-17 between Cordes Junction and Phoenix may be addressed sooner than originally expected.
“Driving Our Future: Developing an Economic Road Map” was the title of the focus of the Northern Economic Regional Development Symposium held Feb. 28 in Wickenburg.
Executive Director Chris Bridges, Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization, was one of the featured speakers. His subject — “Interstate 17 expansion and beyond”—focused upon the proposed expanding of 1-17 between Anthem (a community on the outskirts of Phoenix) all the way to Cordes Junction. It’s at Cordes Junction that State Route 69 veers northwest toward the Quad-City area.
Under consideration in the expansion is the adding of lanes both ways, north and south, with crossover passages. Also under consideration is designating lanes for truck traffic only, and when necessary, making some lanes reversible when road conditions and traffic warrant such a change.
“All of us who travel I-17 from Central and Northern Arizona have been annoyed when what seem interminable traffic delays occur. No matter the cause — accidents, breakdowns, fires or other disasters — those delays cost us time and money,” Bridges acknowledged.
Bridges said several million dollars had been allocated to begin the effort, but many more million would be needed. Presently, Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has set aside $120 million for the Black Canyon City-to-Cordes Junction interstate expansion. Another $70 million has been identified for the Anthem-to-Black Canyon City stretch.
Bridges speculated that it might take from three to five years to complete the complex design details, meet environmental requirements and acquire necessary state and federal permits.
Bridges suggested that a more realistic figure for the actual construction cost would be $500 million. Applications for $380 million more have been submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Also speaking were Dallas Hammit, ADOT state engineer and Chris Comacho, president and CEO, Greater Phoenix Economic Council.