Climbing lane project on I-17 moves to final phase

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- The final phase of the project that will add a climbing lane to the southbound part of Interstate 17 is set to begin, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

A statement from ADOT said that the final overnight blasting closure on the portion of the I-17 south of Camp Verde took place Feb. 18, and the safety improvement project will move ahead to the paving portion.

The project is expected to be completed in early summer.

The climbing lane, which has cost $11.8 million and started in January 2013, will provide an additional southbound lane for the final two miles to the top of Copper Canyon, the statement said.

ADOT has moved about 350,000 tons of dirt and boulders from Copper Canyon to make room for the lane, which will make it easier for drivers to pass slow-moving cars and trucks.

ADOT made more than 80 late-night closures on the I-17, which connects Phoenix and Flagstaff, to blast rock, according to the statement.

Crews have begun building the subgrade for the pavement, which will be added in the early summer.

In addition to the new lane on the I-17, ADOT said it is building a two-mile merging lane between Route 260 and the General Crook Trail interchange, located just before Copper Canyon. The new lane will let larger cars and trucks gain speed before merging onto the I-17.