Preferred developer selected for major I-17 improvements north of Phoenix

Sep 15, 2021, 5:00 PM
(Flickr Photo/Arizona Department of Transportation)...
(Flickr Photo/Arizona Department of Transportation)
(Flickr Photo/Arizona Department of Transportation)

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Transportation has selected a preferred developer for a 23-mile improvement project on Interstate 17 between Phoenix and the high country.

The project is designed to alleviate traffic backups such as the ones that regularly plague Valley travelers during weekend getaways to the Prescott, Sedona and Flagstaff areas.

ADOT said Tuesday it’s in negotiations with Kiewit-Fann Joint Venture to design, construct, operate and maintain the $300 million-plus in improvements, which will include 8 miles of flex lanes between Black Canyon City and Sunset Point.

“What that is is two lanes next to the existing southbound lanes but separated from those existing lanes, two lanes that will allow traffic to go in either direction, depending on the greatest need, depending on peak travel times or if there’s a crash or perhaps a weather-related incident,” ADOT spokeswoman Laura Douglas told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Wednesday.

“So this is something that will really allow for the movement of traffic, reducing congestion and adding capacity to that area that is highly traveled.”

A concrete barrier will separate the flex lanes from existing lanes, with access controlled by gates.

“For example, if you’re heading up on a Friday afternoon to Flagstaff, those flex lanes will be open going northbound to add to the already existing northbound lanes so that we can move traffic and get people up the hill,” Douglas said.

“And likewise, when it’s Sunday afternoon and everybody’s heading back to Phoenix … we will be able to open those flex lanes going southbound in addition to the already existing southbound lanes to help move people and alleviate all of that congestion.”

The project also includes the widening of I-17 from two lanes to three lanes in each direction over the 15 miles between Anthem Way in north Phoenix and Black Canyon City.

Douglas said there isn’t space to add a permanent lane on northbound I-17 north of Black Canyon City because of the mountainous terrain, hence the need for the section of flex lanes.

She said construction is expected to start next year and take three years to complete, with most of the work scheduled for weekdays and lane closures limited to night time.

“There will be no weekend lane closures, and that allows for access to this corridor during the peak travel days and times,” she said.

ADOT said more than a million travelers each year, with more than 50,000 drivers per day at times, use I-17 north of Phoenix.

The improvement project, which has been in the works since 2019, will be paid for with federal, state and regional funding.

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Preferred developer selected for major I-17 improvements north of Phoenix