ARIZONA NEWS

Rock blasting completed for I-17 Improvement Project north of metro Phoenix

May 8, 2024, 1:26 PM

PHOENIX – Crews have completed rock blasting operations to clear the way for the expansion of Interstate 17 north of metro Phoenix, state transportation officials announced Wednesday.

I-17 Improvement Project rock blasting started in December 2022. Work was done only on weeknights, usually in under an hour at time, to reduce the length of the closures required along the busy stretch of freeway, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

The blasting was completed ahead of the peak travel season for Valley residents who like to head north to escape the heat.

Crews wound up conducting 62 controlled blasts, about half the number of initial estimates, to remove entire sections of mountainside, ADOT said.

Approximately 177,000 cubic yards of rock was cleared out, much of which will be incorporated into the new roadway or reused within the project in other ways.

What is the I-17 Improvement project?

The $445 million I-17 Improvement Project is designed to reduce congestion on 23 miles of I-17 between Anthem Way and Sunset Point. More than 1 million travelers use the roadway each year, according to ADOT.

Crews will be widening 15 miles between Anthem Way and Black Canyon City and adding 8 miles of flex lanes between Black Canyon City and Sunset Point.

The flex portion will operate as a separate two-lane roadway open to one direction of traffic at a time, depending on need.

For example, the flex lanes might carry heavy northbound traffic on a Friday and be flipped to accommodate drivers returning to the Valley at the end of the weekend.

When will the I-17 Improvement project be finished?

The Anthem Way-Black Canyon City portion is expected to be completed by the end of this year, with the flex lanes coming online at some point in 2025.

Two bridges will be replaced and 10 more widened as part of the construction.

The speed limit has been reduced to 65 mph between Anthem Way and Sunset Point as a safety measure while the project is ongoing.

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Rock blasting completed for I-17 Improvement Project north of metro Phoenix