By Adrian Hedden for The Arizona Republic
Two significant freeway projects that could help ease commutes on opposite ends of the Phoenix area are competing for funding as the economic recovery puts deferred road construction work back on the drawing board.
State Route 30 would provide relief for drivers in the West Valley by diverting traffic from Interstate 10 for about 13 miles through Goodyear, Avondale and west Phoenix.
State Route 24 in Mesa would extend the existing highway by about three miles, easing the drive between the city and the San Tan Valley area in Pinal County, where several master-planned housing communities are located.
Both “mega-projects” were planned for completion by 2025 under an existing sales tax, but were postponed indefinitely when tax revenues dropped 40 percent during the economic downturn.
But revenue collection has recovered and barring something unforeseen — like another economic meltdown — at least one of the projects will happen by 2025. Officials say perhaps both could even happen, but either way, one will get priority status to go first.
The Maricopa County Association of Governments, the body that funds and plans countywide road projects, expects to have a $787M surplus this year, which it hopes to use to begin the planning stages of both projects.
The Arizona Department of Transportation takes the lead on construction once a project is agreed upon and funded by MAG.
State Route 30 plan
State Route 30, a $1.6B project, would run parallel to I-10 about 5 miles south of the interstate. It would connect the under-construction Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway to a planned Loop 303 extension and Maricopa County 85 in Goodyear. Nintzel said ADOT also is considering making SR 30 a toll route to drive up local revenue once the road is built.
State Route 24 to San Tan Valley area
The SR 24 project would extend the highway southeast about 3 miles from Mesa between Ellsworth Road and Ironwood Drive, and link southeast Maricopa County to the San Tan Valley area in Pinal County.
Mesa’s State Route 24 extension project, known as the Gateway Freeway because of its proximity to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, has an advantage in the competition: It has a completed environmental impact study while SR 30 does not. The studies can take nine months to a year to complete, said Bob Hazlett, MAG project manager.
The SR 24 extension also would cost less, at about $285M, and would take advantage of already-constructed interchanges on Loop 202.
MAG is working to speed up construction of non-deferred projects, and will present the status to the Transportation Policy Committee at a Nov. 30 meeting. After that presentation, committee members will discuss the prioritizing of SR 30 and SR 24.
Read more at The Arizona Republic