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Thu, Sept. 19

Reversible-lane project on I-17 planned by ADOT

PRESCOTT – A plan aimed at improving traffic flow on Interstate 17 got support from the Arizona State Transportation Board.

At its June 17 meeting, the board approved spending $3 million for the 30-percent design of two reversible lanes that would run in the median of Interstate 17’s divided highway.

Another $5 million is scheduled for fiscal-year 2019 for the complete design, according to ADOT, and the construction – estimated at about $125 million – is likely about six or seven years away.

The lanes would be reversible to allow for flexibility to handle the heavy traffic on the interstate. Such a section could deal with rush-hour traffic - opening to northbound traffic on Friday afternoon and evening, for instance, or to southbound traffic on Sunday. It also could help deal with backups during accidents.

Prescott-area officials have long expressed concerns about the lane closures that occur frequently on I-17. On a regular basis, drivers sit stranded on the interstate, waiting hours for traffic to clear after major crashes. Such closures effectively shut down transportation and commerce between Phoenix and Northern Arizona.

In April 2015, the Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization’s executive board approved a resolution to the State Transportation Board, suggesting that the state look into partnering with private enterprise to come up with an interim fix for the interstate.

Later that year, an ADOT official reported to the CYMPO executive board that the state was looking into a possible public-private partnership to help pay for the project.

This past week, ADOT District Engineer Alvin Stump said such a partnership is still under review.

The reversible lanes are being planned for nearly eight miles, from about Black Canyon City to the Sunset Point rest area.

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