By Grace Lieberman / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ
The plans to expand the I-10 and improve the trip from Phoenix to Tucson announced this year are going full steam ahead, according to Gov. Doug Ducey.
The $700 million project, announced during Ducey’s State of the State address in January, is focused on adding more lanes to the segment between Chandler and Casa Grande known as Wild Horse Pass. This part of the freeway is the last stretch to only have two lanes.
The project is a highly anticipated upgrade to the highway that’s constantly full of commuters, vacationers and commercial drivers going back and forth between two of Arizona’s largest cities.
The investment is being allocated through bipartisan-backed Senate Bill 1239. At a signing ceremony for the legislation, Ducey said he’s following through on his earlier promise to prioritize the project.
“This legislation ensures that everyone in Arizona can get to their destination safely and quickly, even as our state continues to grow. We’re not going to have the endless traffic jams you see in cities like Los Angeles, where men and women are stuck in their cars for hours every day,” Ducey said.
The comparatively narrow section of the I-10 has long been a cause of congestion, and has even proved to be a threat to drivers’ safety.
Expanding, officials said, will ease congestion that frequently plagues the area, improve safety conditions for drivers, and enhance economic development for the area surrounding the highway.
The expansion will make the section of highway three lanes and extend the HOV lane. $400 million of the project’s funding comes from the state while the other $300 million is from a federal grant.
The project is estimated to cost just under $1 billion, with nearly $700 million in state-dedicated funding. Officials also said Arizona’s upfront investment will give more opportunities to secure federal funds for the project.
Ducey announced a $230 million cash injection for new transportation infrastructure investments in 2021. In addition to this project, the funding is also expected to be used to update the Gila River Bridge on I-10, widen U.S. Route 93, add capacity to I-17, and improve more than 600 highway lane-miles statewide.
John Halikowski, director of the Arizona Department of Transportation, said improving the conditions of the I-10 is an essential component in boosting the state’s economic growth.
“The Governor’s investment into the expansion of I-10 is the leadership that is needed to lock in Arizona’s future as an economic powerhouse and continue to improve the quality of life for all Arizonans,” John Halikowski said in a statement.