Interstate 10’s one remaining two-lane stretch in each direction between Phoenix and Tucson is the 26 miles that cross the Gila River Indian Community just north of Casa Grande.
Gov. Doug Ducey has included $28 million in his budget to fully fund replacement of the bridge across the Gila River, which sits near the midpoint of this stretch of highway.
Ducey said during his State of the State address in January: “62,000 people drive over it every day. That’s 23 million a year. So let’s break ground ASAP.”
Construction is expected to begin during the 2021 fiscal year, which begins July 1, the governor’s office said. The new bridge will be six lanes wide, with capacity to add additional lanes.
The existing bridge, two spans going east- and westbound, is 56 years old and approaching the end of its expected life span, the Arizona Department of Transportation says on www.i10bridgeproject.com, a webpage for ADOT’s study of alternatives for repairing or replacing it.
ADOT indicates on its website the preferred solution is to replace the bridge rather than continue to repair it. The governor’s allocation will complete the funding for a new bridge, expected to cost about $78 million, with the rest coming from the federal government.
As for the rest of the stretch, ADOT is working with the GRIC, Federal Highway Administration and Maricopa Association of Governments on a separate environmental and engineering study of adding one lane in each direction, as well as a “no-build” option. The study is to be completed in August, according to that project’s web page, www.i10wildhorsepasscorridor.com.
But the timeline depends on land acquisition from the tribe and funding, neither of which has a set timeline.
ADOT has set aside $50 million for “initial improvements” on I-10 beginning in fiscal year 2023, and MAG $112 million for the Maricopa County section in fiscal 2025, which is about 8 miles. The ultimate cost of widening the stretch and where the rest of the money will come from hasn’t been determined, though ADOT will look for federal as well as state and local funding.
Casa Grande Mayor Craig McFarland said he is optimistic the widening of entire stretch between Casa Grande and Chandler, where at least five people died in crashes during February, will start in the next five years. He cited the funding in the state’s 5-year road improvement plans and the GRIC’s commitment to the engineering study and a coalition being formed by the Pinal Alliance.
He said to try to speed the process along, during an upcoming trip to Washington D.C. “I’m planning to go to our legislators and do a little pounding of the pavement.”