89A/Viewpoint interchange gets long-awaited work

PRESCOTT VALLEY - Every day, about 12,500 drivers exit off of Highway 89A and proceed through the traffic signal at Viewpoint Drive.

For nearly a decade, the incomplete interchange at 89A/Viewpoint has caused an interruption to the flow of traffic on the divided highway.

But that should change within the next year, as the Arizona Department of Transportation oversees the construction of the long-awaited overpasses at the interchange.

Arizona Department of Transportation District Engineer Greg Gentsch reported that the state plans to advertise for the interchange project before the end of the current fiscal year on June 30.

ADOT Resident Engineer Alvin Stump said construction could be under way on the $5.7 million interchange project by September.

The completion of the Viewpoint interchange has long been on the wish list of local residents - many of whom regularly use the highway on their way from Prescott to Fain Road, and on to Phoenix.

Stump reports that during peak traffic times, as many as 1,000 vehicles an hour approach the intersection on each side of the highway.

That often means that traffic must slow to a stop from speeds of 55 to 65 miles per hour, and then stack up at the signals on either side of the highway.

Ever since the completion of the rerouted Highway 89A in the early 2000s, the Viewpoint interchange has stood incomplete.

In 2008, ADOT completed a $5.6 million project at the 89/89A interchange - another incomplete component of the original project.

Later that year, ADOT announced that the design for the Viewpoint interchange would get under way by early 2009. Now, ADOT officials say, the design is 95 percent complete, and is ready for public review.

ADOT will conduct a public meeting on the design from 5 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 24, at the Town of Prescott Valley's council chambers auditorium at the library complex. A brief presentation will take place at 5:15 p.m.

Stump said the Viewpoint interchange will be similar in design to the 89/89A interchange - with two bridges spanning North Viewpoint Drive.

Back in 2009, state officials had hoped to get the Viewpoint interchange construction in ADOT's plan for fiscal year 2014. But since then, Stump said, the state moved the project up in the schedule, and money is now available for the $5.7 million cost.

Still pending is whether this year's ADOT budget will include the money that would be necessary to expand the project to include widening of the "Highway 89A Spur" - the portion of road that extends beyond the Viewpoint interchange toward Fain Road.

Stump said the design that will be under review on March 24 will include the widening of the segment of road between Viewpoint and the county portion of Fain Road to four lanes. The widening would extend about 1.8 miles beyond the Robert Road intersection, he said.

"If there is funding available, we could do (the widening)," Stump said.

The Highway 89A Spur widening would add about $14.1 million to the project, bringing the total cost to $19.8 million.

Stump expects the interchange construction project to take about a year to complete.