ADOT developing creative pieces for South Mountain Freeway

Mar 8, 2017, 4:22 AM | Updated: 12:16 pm

(Photo: ADOT)...

(Photo: ADOT)

(Photo: ADOT)

LISTEN: ADOT developing new art for South Mountain Freeway

PHOENIX — The Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway could be the best-looking freeway in Arizona once it’s completed, due to new developments from state transportation officials.

Arizona Department of Transportation officials have begun developing Stonehenge-like structures, including concrete columns and walls, that could be placed along the freeway once it is completed.

The department is testing different aesthetics, including paint colors, on pillars near 59th Avenue and Washington Street in Phoenix. Project manager Robert Salazar said future pillars will complement the areas that the road goes through, as well as tell an area’s story.

Preview of concrete pillars for the South Mountain Freeway (Photo: ADOT)

Preview of concrete pillars for the South Mountain Freeway (Photo: ADOT)

“This gives us an opportunity to evaluate the design before it’s completed and before it gets built,” Salazar said. “We also test the preliminary paint colors to see what they will look like on concrete.”

According to a press release, the freeway will feature “five distinctive aesthetic character areas to complement its surroundings, help tell an area’s story and create a more appealing environment for drivers.”

The different types of aesthetic, the release said, will feature “agricultural heritage” and shapes based on “native cholla and ocotillo cactuses.”

The South Mountain Freeway, which is scheduled to open in late 2019, has been in various stages of development since December 2016, when officials first began pouring concrete for the freeway.

Preview of concrete pillars for the South Mountain Freeway (Photo: ADOT)

The freeway will be an extension of the Loop 202 and will run 22 miles to connect the East Valley to the West Valley by the I-10. It will also widen the I-10 between 43rd and 75th avenues to add merge lanes in each direction and access roads between 51st to 67th avenues.

The project was first approved by Maricopa County voters in 1985 — and again in 2004 — as part of a comprehensive regional transportation plan, but has since it has stirred up controversy in the area.

In January, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an attempt made by the the Gila River Indian Community to stop construction of the freeway, the fifth of its kind.

The Pecos Road entrance at the park-and-ride at 40th Street and Pecos was closed in January to make way for the expansion and various sections of Phoenix-area roadways and freeways have been shut down over the past couple of months in order to prepare for construction.

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ADOT developing creative pieces for South Mountain Freeway