Transportation

Design Begins on 22-mile South Mountain Freeway

Construction of the largest highway project in Arizona history is set to begin this summer, and WSP USA will serve as lead designer.

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) recently selected Connect 202 Partners as the team to design, build and maintain (DBM) the $916 million South Mountain Freeway (State Route 202) in Phoenix. Connect 202 Partners, a joint venture of Fluor Enterprises Inc., Granite Construction Co., and Ames Construction Inc. will provide construction and 30-year maintenance for the freeway. WSP will provide final design.

Sally Ellis

Sally Ellis

Greg Gesicki

Greg Gesicki

Doug LaMont

Doug LaMont

Design of the highway began on March 1. Construction is expected to begin by February 2017. Completion of the freeway is targeted for late 2019.

The South Mountain Freeway is the final 22-mile-long segment of the Loop 202 system that connects to Interstate 10 on both ends, creating a bypass for downtown Phoenix. It will be constructed with four lanes in each direction – three general-use lanes and one high-occupancy vehicle lane. Plans include use of rubberized asphalt to construct the roadway, as well as access-controlled interchanges and aesthetics that reflect the nearby communities.

“This freeway will improve mobility in the region by providing a route that connects I-10 to the west and east while avoiding the highly congested freeway corridor within the heart of the metropolitan area,” said Doug LaMont, project manager.

Joining LaMont on the lead design team are Greg Gesicki, project director, and Sally Ellis, deputy project manager.

Another First

The South Mountain Freeway is the first highway public-private partnership (P3) in Arizona, which is expected to allow ADOT to construct the project at an accelerated pace and lower cost.

“This first-of-its-kind highway contract in Arizona has not only reduced the overall cost but allowed ADOT to accelerate the entire project, meaning motorists will be able to benefit from this critical freeway sooner,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said in a press release issued by ADOT. “That’s especially important in light of transportation needs today and into the future.”

Connect 202 Partners was chosen following an extensive review that included representatives from ADOT, Federal Highway Administration, Maricopa Association of Governments and the City of Phoenix.

Innovations proposed by Connect 202 Partners include optimizing the design of the freeway to reduce the amount of right-of-way needed and improving efficiency by reducing the amount of earth needing to be hauled by trucks. The project will include construction of a 15-foot-wide multi-use trail along the existing Pecos Road alignment from 40th Street to 17th Avenue.

The DBM contract between ADOT and Connect 202 Partners was finalized and approved on Feb. 26. WSP signed its professional service agreement with ADOT on Feb. 26, and its notice to proceed agreement for design work on Feb. 29.

Pre-construction activities, including geotechnical and utility work and property acquisition and preparation, began in spring 2015 after ADOT received final federal clearance to move forward.

“This is another example of government working at the speed of business to save taxpayer money and improve the lives of Arizonans,” said Arizona Governor Doug Ducey in a statement. "Thanks to hard work and collaboration, the South Mountain Freeway will be completed under budget and faster than expected.”