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Take it easy: Speed limits lowered on Interstate 17 for Memorial Day weekend

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Transportation has a message for Memorial Day weekend drivers on Interstate 17: Slow down.

The agency lowered speed limits on the popular highway for the holiday weekend in an effort to reduce crashes and crash-related delays.

“We can all get home sooner and safely if we work together to avoid crashes,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said in a release.

“At all times, and especially during peak travel periods, safety begins with driver decisions that reduce the potential for crashes and secondary crashes that can be even more serious.”

On Friday, the speed limit will be dropped 10 mph between New River and the Sunset Point Rest Area on northbound I-17.

On Monday, the speed limit will be lowered 10 mph on southbound I-17 between the Sunset Point Rest Area and New River.

Drivers will be notified of the new speed limits via temporary signs. Electronic signs will also inform drivers how fast they are going.

ADOT will also have crews and equipment staged to clear the freeway quickly.

The stretch of I-17 between Sunset Point Rest Area and New River is notorious for crashes that cause long delays, as the freeway is the primary connector between Phoenix and the state’s high country, a popular vacation destination.

Earlier this month, a crash on that same stretch of roadway caused a seven-mile backup. Some drivers said the quick two-hour jaunt from Flagstaff to Phoenix turned into a six-hour slog.

An ADOT study found excessive speed was a factor in about 40 percent of crashes in the area around Black Canyon City between 2011 and 2015.

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