By Eric Jay Toll for Arizona Builder’s Exchange
It’s late Sunday morning, heading down U.S. 60 through Surprise towards home after a weekend camping trip. Tummies grumbling, there’s a Five Guys just down Bell Road from Grand Avenue. Grab a burger, then catch Loop 101 for an easy ride the rest of the way home. Just have to make the turn from Grand Avenue onto Bell Road.
Just a simple eastbound turn.
Might as well get out of the car and walk.
Even on Sunday, traffic coagulates at Bell Road and Grand Avenue in Surprise. During the week, it’s worse. City officials are pulling their hair; ADOT planners hide under desks. It’s everyone’s nightmare intersection. Sometimes it’s necessary to see what monster really is under the bed.
For West Valley residents, the monster under the bed is Bell Road’s 80K average daily traffic combined with multiple Burlington Northern-Santa Fe trains crossing the intersection west of Grand Avenue. ADOT officials say the traffic count is going to keep going up as the economy recovers in Peoria and Surprise—the result will be worse traffic hold-ups at the intersection.
ADOT and Surprise officials have collectively leaned over the side of the bed and dreamed up seven possible plans to fix the beyond-gridlock congestion. The seven plans range from a freeway-style interchange to traffic diverting onto side streets feeding the turns—similar to Broadway Rd. and Country Club Dr. in Mesa or Scottsdale Rd. and Shea Blvd. in Scottsdale.
No matter what the option, Bell Road is going to fly over Grand Avenue and the BNSF tracks, and the price is going to move towards $36M. The effort will take 18 months to build.
If the fix is relief, the fixing is filled with unimaginable pain.
ADOT is starting the public process to select the best option and find a way to reduce the expected parking lot that will be created during construction. Big boxes and major retailers line all points of the existing intersection. Construction will need to divert traffic away from the intersection when bulldozers start in 2015. Businesses are not going to be happy about that monster crawling out from under the bed.
See all the options at ADOT