PHOENIX — Many drivers heading back to the Valley after a trip to the high country can expect delays along Interstate 17, but a major construction project is hoping to change that.
The 23-mile stretch of I-17 between Anthem Way and Sunset Point is one of the most utilized roadways in the entire state, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. The department reports one million people drive through the area each year.
Right now, however, there are only two travel lanes in each direction. That means, most of those people get caught in heavy back-ups with crashes, breakdowns, or just congested holiday travel.
"The I-17 flex lanes project is coming," ADOT's Doug Nintzel said earlier this month.
Flex lanes are used to ease back-ups during peak travel times, like holiday weekends.
These will allow ADOT crews to add an extra two lanes in one direction and can switch northbound or southbound depending on the need at the time.
The project is now underway, which will include widening 15 miles of roadway, two bridge replacements, and more.
"Crews have to start work such as removing vegetation," Nintzel explained. "And we also are going to be doing some things for transplanting trees and or cacti so that we can store them for later in the project."
Construction work at New River Road began Monday, Sept. 26. ADOT will maintain one lane in each direction, and interstate access will not be impacted at this time. The New River Road bridge work is expected to last until February 2023.
As for the timeline on when commuters will be able to benefit from this project, ADOT tells Operation Safe Roads it will take until 2025 for it all to be completed.
For more information on the I-17 Improvement Project, click here.
Do you have a road issue or a question for Operation Safe Roads? Call 833-AZ-ROADS or email firstname.lastname@example.org.