89/69 interchange design work 'progressing'
PRESCOTT – Once the design process sees completion for the new and improved Highway 89/69 Interchange Project, drivers can look forward to a smoother tri-city commute.
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has finished a draft plan for the interchange that eliminates all left turns from Highway 89 onto Highway 69 beneath the overpass at that intersection.
In addition, the new plan includes extra travel lanes, improvements to the Sheldon Street/Gurley Street intersection, improved access into Government Canyon and the relocation of the Veteran's Affairs (VA) Medical Center entrance.
Before Wednesday night's public hearing for the interchange improvements ADOT Development Engineer Alvin Stump said, "Things are progressing."
As soon as ADOT receives a contract for the new interchange plan, then the design phase will begin.
"We will hopefully begin the design in August or September (2003), Stump said.
That means when the project goes out for bid this fall, then workers can start building around January 2004, he said.
"Usually after we advertise, it's a three-month process," Stump said.
Stump added that the new 89/69 overpass and a $500,000 paved, multi-use path goes hand in hand with the total interchange pro-ject.
ADOT has $14.1 million in place for the project in addition to half a million dollars for the pathway.
The original design concept for the project would have cost about $25 million to complete, according to ADOT District Engineer Tom Foster.
Foster said, during the meeting that state budget constraints have cut the project down to its current amount.
He added that ADOT would carry over its fiscal year 2004 money, for the project, into the following year's budget to see it through to completion – an estimated year-and-a-half span.
The reason the project has taken so long to get this far, Foster said, stems from the long process of gathering a consensus on the plan and the recent move of the ADOT complex to its new location on Commerce Drive.
"We've been stalled in the design process … we're moving forward and the money is there, it has been there, just not enough," Foster said.
In addition ADOT, in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration, has made changes to the 1999 design because of changes in traffic patterns, traffic growth and new subdivisions within the city.
The previous 1999 design called for a new bridge/overpass about 250 feet northeast of the existing bridge that would carry west bound traffic from Highway 69 to Gurley Street.
The current plan shows that the existing bridge will get a makeover at its present location that includes a new ramp to carry southbound Highway 89 traffic, heading toward Sheldon Street, on dedicated lanes.
Both directions of traffic between Gurley Street and Highway 89 would pass beneath the bridge, according to the plan.
The 1999 plan called for the relocation of the VA entrance to almost a half-mile north of its Highway 89 site.
The new plan design will place the VA entrance about 300 feet north of its current location and see a new signalized intersection with Highway 89.
In addition the new plan outlines the following:
• The existing Butterfield/Gurley Street intersection will change to provide a 90-degree, right-in/right/out intersection with deceleration and acceleration lanes on Gurley Street.
• The Prescott National Cemetery will see a new access that would connect Butterfield Road to the new entrance at the northwestern corner of the cemetery.
Already the county has re-aligned a portion of Butterfield Road and extended that road across the canyon to the existing Hillcrest Lane that sits within the City of Prescott.
The county's regional road fund paid for the Hillcrest realignment project that cost $625,000 and took about four months to complete.
The new extension runs through the Overland Road.
The public can still submit comments regarding this project until June 19.
Anyone interested may mail written comments to George Wallace, project manager, at: 875 West Elliot Road, Suite 201, Tempe, AZ 85284 or call (480) 763-8698.