PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- When will the South Mountain Freeway open in Phoenix?
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, the freeway has been slated to open before the end of 2019. But, an exact date had not been announced.
Gov. Doug Ducey held a ceremony regarding the freeway opening on Wednesday morning. An opening date was not announced. ADOT tweeted on Wednesday that "the freeway is set to open to traffic before the end of the year."
Everyone has been wondering about the official opening date. After several inquires, ADOT released the following information about the South Mountain Freeway to Arizona's Family on Thursday afternoon:
We remain on schedule to open the South Mountain Freeway to traffic by the end of December, as planned. The overall project is scheduled for substantial completion in 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 the 6-mile-long multi-use path in Ahwatukee, install technology and complete other work. Much of this will have minimal impact on traffic, but other elements of construction, such as rubberized asphalt paving on I-10, will require some closures and restrictions.
Over the past few weeks, there have been discussions about a community celebration for the opening of the South Mountain Freeway. An event was being considered for Dec. 21, but 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. However, once the new South Mountain Freeway opens, we know there will be drivers throughout our community who will be celebrating for 22 miles.
The South Mountain Freeway will feature 22 miles of new freeway, connecting the West Valley to the East Valley. The northernmost portion of the freeway will connect the Loop 202 with Interstate 10 at 59th Avenue. In the East Valley, the new section of the freeway will connect with the Loop 202 San Tan at Interstate 10 in Ahwatukee.
Travelers in the West Valley and East Valley have been hit with travel delays as a result of the South Mountain Freeway construction. Most recently, travelers were seen traveling the wrong-way on the Loop 202 at McClintock to avoid construction traffic.
Notably, the same stretch of the Loop 202 has over 200 potholes, cracks or gouges per three miles, according to a CBS 5 Investigation. ADOT said they are working on the scheduling of pavement improvement projects for 2020. A schedule has not yet been set.
Construction on the South Mountain Freeway project began in January 2017.
Joining Governor Ducey for the announcement at the new freeway bridges over the Salt River on Wednesday was Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego; Governor 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 more.
“Decades in the making, this opening marks a historic achievement for Arizona,” Governor Ducey said. “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.”