BUCKEYE— While many Arizona students head back to school, visitors from other states are still on Interstate 10 and other Valley highways, enjoying their summer vacations.
A part of I-10 undergoing a major makeover has been the site of at least 11 crashes since March 1, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. ADOT is converting the Miller Road and Watson Road exits into divergent-diamond interchanges. That requires tearing down and rebuilding the overpass bridges, creating new signal intersections on both sides of the interstate and building new ramps at both exits.
While the first phase was completed ahead of schedule, complications have slowed progress of the multi-interchange project.
At an April 5 Buckeye City Council meeting, Daina Mann, an ADOT assistant communication director for community relations, made a short presentation about the project. She said Phase 1, which involved new on- and off-ramps for I-10 at Miller Road, was completed 10 days early.
Since that time, the overall project has fallen behind.
Kim Larson, a spokesperson for ADOT, said difficulty in getting waterline supplies delivered is one of the supply chain delays that slowed the Miller Road phases.
In addition to rebuilding two interchanges, ADOT is adding one travel lane, along the median, to I-10 through Buckeye. During some project phases, however, I-10 will only be one lane in each direction between Miller and Watson.
ADOT announced July 5 that Miller Road underneath I-10 will be closed from July 11 to at least Aug. 30, according to its website. That means no through traffic along Miller Road; the open ramps mean right turns only, entering or exiting the interstate.
Initially, the similar Watson rebuild was set to begin in July.
A 40-day closure of Watson’s west-side ramps, followed by 40-day closures of the east-side ramps and a 50-day closure of Watson Road itself were supposed to lead to completion of the entire project by late spring of next year.
However, none of the Watson work can begin until the Miller Road phases are complete.
Larson said Friday the Miller Road interchange will be completed “within a couple of weeks” if there are more delays. She said an ADOT representative plans to give another update to the Buckeye City Council at an Aug. 16 workshop.
Watson and Miller roads are both along the north edge of existing development, without much built north of I-10. However, the Miller Road interchange is at the north end of mostly planned residential development and several planned or ongoing road projects.
It already requires caution and careful navigation.
The Watson interchange is just north of one of the most congested retail areas in Buckeye. The Watson Road ramp closures in that area are expected to disrupt retail sales at the least.
The other piece of good news in the area is that I-10 westbound remains three lanes from State Route 303 all the way past Jackrabbit Trail, where it had been narrowed to one lane as far east as Perryville Road early in the spring.
In addition to parts of Miller being the sites of ongoing or planned work, there are other large city projects planned that will disrupt traffic. Council recently approved funding for major infrastructure improvements for the planned Buckeye Commons shopping area along Verrado Way, just south of I-10, that will include a Costco store.
This week, a crew closed MC85, just west of Verrado Way, as part of widening project. That closure is scheduled to end Tuesday, Aug. 9.
“It’s tough to endure, but it will so be worth it when it’s done,” Mayor Eric Orsborn said of the numerous improvements happening in the area.
Jason W. Brooks
Jason W. Brooks is an associate editor for the Daily independent.
He covers the Buckeye area and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. Brooks is a well-traveled journalist who has documented life in small American communities in nearly all its time zones. Born in Washington, D.C., and raised there and in suburban Los Angeles, he has covered community news in California, New Mexico, Arkansas, Iowa, and Nebraska.
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