Gila River Bridge Widening Revived

The widening of Interstate 10’s bridge over the Gila River has been added back to the state’s near-term construction plans with the allocation of $33 million more for the project.

It’s one of four projects included in a tentative update to the Arizona Department of Transportation’s (ADOT) five-year transportation facilities construction plan when the availability of federal COVID-19 relief funding and state revenues came in higher than expected at the beginning of the pandemic.

Earlier this year the Arizona State Transportation Board voted to add the projects to its road-building plan for 2022-2026. Work to replace the two bridges crossing the Gila River, one in each direction with wider structures is scheduled to begin in 2023. Most of the total $83 million construction cost will be covered by federal sources.

“This funding plan outlined by Gov. Ducey and ADOT prioritizes Arizona’s most immediate transportation needs and opens opportunities for future expansion,” state Transportation Board Chairman Steve Stratton, who represents Pinal, Gila, and Graham counties, said before the vote. “I look forward to working with my fellow board members to put this plan to work.”

Expanding the capacity of the bridge is a first step toward widening the 26 miles of I-10 that cross the Gila River Indian Community between metro Phoenix and Casa Grande. It’s the only section of the freeway between Phoenix and Tucson that doesn’t have at least three lanes traveling in each direction.

Ducey included the Gila River bridge in his proposed budget in early 2020. However, once the pandemic took hold it and several other transportation projects did not make it into the final budget.

The four high-priority projects were put back on the five-year plan with the addition of $230 million in funding; $150.3 million of it allocated to the state from the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Act and $80 million in state transportation funds. The other projects included in the plan’s update are:

  • Widening U.S. Route 93 north of Wickenburg.
  • Adding capacity to Interstate 17 north of metro Phoenix
  • Improving more than 600 highway lane-miles across the state.

Pinal County leaders have been advocating for widening the I-10 segment to address safety and traffic concerns as well as to bolster economic development. Widening the freeway beyond the bridge requires obtaining additional right-of-way through the Gila River Indian Community and funding to cover that cost, estimated between $500 million and $600 million.

The comment period for ADOT’s tentative five-year updated plan continues through June 3. Residents can submit comments by:

  • Emailing
  • Calling the bilingual comment line at 855-712-8530.
  • Participating in virtual public hearings scheduled for 9 a.m. May 21 and June 3.
  • Mailing them to ADOT, Attn: Daina Mann, c/o ADOT Communications, 1655 W. Jackson, Room 179, MD 126F, Phoenix, AZ 85007.

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Photo Courtesy of ADOT