ANTHEM, Ariz. — Drivers get ready. Your trip to Flagstaff may soon include construction.
Signed and sealed. ADOT announced Thursday they have finally secured a contract with developers Kiewit-Fann Joint Venture, clearing the way to start work on the I-17 improvement project.
“This really begins the formal part of this process,” said Laura Douglas, ADOT spokesperson.
With construction to start in 2022, the project will make improvements to I-17 over a 23-mile stretch from Anthem Way to Sunset Point.
Interstate 17 will be widened by one lane in each direction over the 15 miles between Anthem Way and Black Canyon City and "flex lanes” will be built over the remaining 8 miles.
This will allow ADOT to switch the direction of traffic flow as needed.
“So if traffic needs to go north on a Friday afternoon or a Saturday morning because that's the greatest need, we can open up those flex lanes to go north," Douglas said.
And the lanes can be switched to southbound on Sunday as people head out of the Snow back to Phoenix.
Drivers know the current routine all too well.
“You have to leave really, really early in the morning and head out about midday to be able to make it back and not get stuck in that afternoon traffic," said driver Heidi Ruich.
ADOT says more than a million drivers take the route each year and should prepare now for on-and-off delays.
"I don't know how its going to go in the process, but once its done it will be helpful," said Ruich, about the project.
“We're really encouraging drivers to make sure they drive safely through that corridor now, and especially when construction is active. We want to make sure everyone gets to where they're going safely, including our construction workers,” Douglas said.
The total cost for the project is $445 million. Funds were raised from a mix of state and federal grants.
Once construction begins next year, ADOT says it will take three years to complete the project.