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ADOT may pursue some reimbursement for series of I-10 closings

Arizona Department of Public Safety public information officer Kameron Lee drives cautiously through blowing dust along I-10 near the eastern border of Arizona. (Twitter Photo/@laurenreimer4)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Transportation may try to get some money out of a landowner whose dusty field has forced the closure of Interstate 10 multiple times in recent weeks.

“We’ll work with the property owner on reimbursement,” Doug Nintzel with ADOT said.

Nintzel said ADOT sent several truckloads of water to the owner in an effort to cut down on the dust.

“Our goal in getting involved was to get the watering of the ground started,” he said. “Now that’s in the hands of the property owner, including the continued use of the contractor, who has the larger spray tankers on the site.”

The field in question stretches over hundreds of acres near the town of San Simon, Arizona. Frequent breezy weather picks up dust from the field — which has been plowed and will be the site of a pecan grove — and carries it over I-10, obscuring vision and creating dangerous conditions.

Water carted in by ADOT’s trucks was sprayed on the ground with the aim of creating a layer that dust cannot permeate, essentially trapping it in place under a crust.

If the highway closes, motorists are forced to take a 110-mile detour to Safford on U.S. 191 and back to Lordsburg, New Mexico, on U.S. 70.

Nintzel said ADOT has done its part in mitigating the issue. The agency plans to turn over further work to stop the blowing dust to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and several other agencies, along with the landowner.

KTAR’s Jim Cross contributed to this report.

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