PHOENIX -- The State Transportation Board has awarded an $11.9 million contract for a project to ease congestion on a heavily traveled stretch of Interstate 17, the main travel route between Phoenix and northern Arizona.
Arizona Department of Transportation officials said construction of a two-mile climbing lane on southbound I-17 leading to the top of Copper Canyon south of Camp Verde will begin in early 2013 and be completed by year's end.
Some full closures of I-17 will be necessary due to the required blasting.
The federally funded project also includes adding an auxiliary lane between the State Route 260 traffic interchange (milepost 287) and the General Crook Trail traffic interchange (milepost 285), which is located immediately before the approach to Copper Canyon. The new lane will allow large trucks to gain speed before merging into the travel lanes.
"Climbing lanes help reduce collisions and backups by providing slower moving trucks and vehicles an additional, safe lane to travel in," said Prescott District Engineer Alvin Stump. "This reduces conflicts between slower moving trucks and passing vehicles. This will allow smoother travel with fewer delays, which will be a huge benefit to the public when this project is completed."
This project is the first of three phases to build a climbing lane along the entire 6.5-mile climb up Copper Canyon. However, the other two phases are not yet scheduled.
For the latest information about highway conditions across Arizona, visit ADOT's Travel Information site at www.az511.gov or call 5-1-1.