The East and West valleys will soon have another connection without having to go through downtown Phoenix once the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway opens its full 22 miles.
Gov. Doug Ducey and other officials will kick off the opening with an announcement the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 18.
According to officials, the South Mountain Freeway project is the largest single freeway project in state history and finished three years early with $100 million in savings through an innovative partnership.
Joining Mr. Ducey for the announcement at the new freeway bridges over the Salt River will be Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego; Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community; Arizona Department of Transportation Director John Halikowski; Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell, chairman of the Maricopa Association of Governments; Karla Petty, Arizona division administrator for the Federal Highway Administration; and Michael Bidwill, president of the Arizona Cardinals, as well as legislators, local officials, transportation stakeholders and others.
“Decades in the making, this opening marks a historic achievement for Arizona,” Mr. Ducey stated in a release. “Arizona has benefited from the foresight and innovation of past leaders who have positioned our state as a trade and transportation hub. This new highway – the largest highway project in state history – represents Arizona’s continued commitment to 21st century infrastructure that will enable our state’s growth for generations to come. My thanks goes out to the many federal, state, local, tribal and community partners who have worked tirelessly over the past decades to help make this vision a reality. I look forward to celebrating its opening with them."
ADOT officials had said Wednesday that they were on schedule to open the South Mountain Freeway to traffic by the end of December as planned. There are less than 3 weeks until the end of 2019.
ADOT says the overall project is scheduled for substantial completion into 2020 as crews complete rubberized asphalt paving, construct the 32nd Street interchange — which was not included in the original design — build a pedestrian bridge, finish a 6-mile-long multi-use path in Ahwatukee, install technology and complete other work.
Much of that will have minimal impact on traffic, ADOT says, but other elements of construction, such as rubberized asphalt paving on Interstate 10, will require some closures and restrictions.
ADOT says traffic in Ahwatukee has been using the future freeway mainline in a temporary configuration, with two lanes in each direction and a speed limit of 40 mph, until the freeway opens.
Over the past few weeks, ADOT says there have been discussions about a community celebration for the opening of the South Mountain Freeway. An event was being considered for Dec. 21. However, because of a fast-paced construction schedule and the commitment by ADOT and Connect 202 Partners to open the South Mountain Freeway to traffic before the end of the year, a community event will not be held for this project, officials said.
“However, once the new South Mountain Freeway opens, we know there will be drivers throughout our community who will be celebrating for 22 miles,” ADOT stated.
The South Mountain Freeway project has been under construction since September 2016, according to ADOT. The I-10/Loop 202 interchange in the East Valley is one end of the freeway, which, travels south of South Mountain into Laveen and up to the interchange of I-10 and 59th Avenue in west Phoenix.
Officials say it is projected to carry about 117,000 vehicles per day in its first year.
The South Mountain Freeway will also be known as the "Congressman Ed Pastor Freeway," in homage of former U.S. House representative Ed Pastor, who died in 2018.
Visit www.SouthMountainFreeway.com for more information on the project.