Design work is nearly completed on a new highway that will bring much-needed traffic relief to the metropolitan region of Phoenix, Arizona.
The Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway is a 22-mile-long roadway that will bypass the city’s downtown and provide a critical direct link between the West Valley and East Valley along Interstate 10, significantly improving regional mobility and reducing gridlock on the highway system.
“This is a freeway that currently does not exist, but is needed,” said Doug LaMont, project manager. “The new South Mountain Freeway will provide a major east-west connection, as well as a new system-to-system interchange that will be constructed along I-10 at 59th Avenue.”
WSP USA serves as the lead design firm, as part of Connect 202 Partners, a public-private partnership (P3) of Fluor Enterprises, Granite Construction and Ames Construction. Connect 202 Partners is working on behalf of the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). It is Arizona’s largest ever highway project and the state’s first highway P3 project. The project was awarded to Connect 202 Partners in December 2015.
The new highway will connect to a segment of Interstate 10 known as the Papago Freeway, with an interchange at 59th Avenue to the west of Phoenix. The highway will travel southeast through Laveen Village, South Mountain Park and Ahwatukee Foothills Village, eventually connecting to Interstate 10 at the Route 202 intersection.
The $916 million project includes 4.5 miles of improvements to the I-10 Papago Freeway, 42 bridges, 13 service traffic interchanges, one system traffic interchange, 11 miles of noise walls, and six miles of a shared-use path. The system interchange and the addition of a one-way access roads parallel to the freeway are designed to improve operations along the I-10 corridor.
Three of the four project design segments were completed in August, with the fourth segment targeting completion by the spring of 2018. Construction started in fall 2016 and the new highway is expected to be opened to motorists by late 2019.
Connect 202 Partners provided several innovative design concepts, including the introduction of a new bridge girder type and an asphalt pavement section on the freeway and ramps.
First flush basins, which capture the initial water runoff created by a storm, were also designed to capture and settle oils and other pollutants that may be washed off the freeway and ramp pavement, reducing the risk of those pollutants travelling into the soil and groundwater.
The design factored in culturally significant properties near the proposed highway route, which were avoided in the final plan to preserve the natural environment.
“Any metals recovered from the demolition of properties will be recycled and used on the project,” LaMont added.
The P3 allows ADOT to construct the project at an accelerated pace and at a lower cost.
“Pursuing the project as a P3 allowed ADOT to realize $122 million cost savings, which can then be used to replenish the regional transportation fund for use on other projects,” LaMont said. “It also allowed ADOT to transfer the risk of right-of-way acquisitions and utility relocations onto the developer, Connect 202 Partners.”
ADOT estimated that the P3 approach moved the project forward two years faster.
The project used regional transportation funds and there is no gap financing or tolling planned for the facility. After the project is completed, Connect 202 Partners will be responsible for maintaining the highway for 30 years.
LaMont said he is grateful for the opportunity to work on a project that will have a positive influence on driving in Phoenix.
“Having spent my entire professional career delivering ADOT projects of all sizes over the past 30 years, it is an honor to be trusted by ADOT and the Connect 202 Partners to deliver a project of this magnitude to the citizens of Arizona,” LaMont said.
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