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Emergency repairs cause day-long closure of Highway 89; widening project is still on track, ADOT says

An ongoing $10.3 million widening project continues to affect traffic along a stretch of Highway 89 in northeast Prescott. On Wednesday, Jan. 16, the highway was shut down to allow for an interim repair of the old pavement, due to weather-related deterioration near MacCurdy Drive. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

An ongoing $10.3 million widening project continues to affect traffic along a stretch of Highway 89 in northeast Prescott. On Wednesday, Jan. 16, the highway was shut down to allow for an interim repair of the old pavement, due to weather-related deterioration near MacCurdy Drive. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

Pavement that was slated for replacement later this year was unable to withstand the impacts from recent heavy rains.

On Wednesday, Jan. 16, crews had to do an emergency repair on nearly a half-mile of Highway 89 between MacCurdy Drive and Deep Well Ranch Road.

“With the wet weather, it caused the pavement to deteriorate,” Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) District Engineer Alvin Stump said. “The old pavement was shifting with the extra traffic and with the moisture.”

The deterioration reached the point where crews could no longer continue patching the pavement, Stump said. Although the initial plan was to do the repairs during the night, Stump said Wednesday, “This morning, it was too bad to wait.”

That, in turn, caused the closure of the highway for much of the day on Wednesday.

Stump reported that the contractor working on the ongoing $10.3 million widening project had to spend the day doing the interim repair.

“The contractor had to do emergency repair on approximately 2,100 feet of roadway, requiring ADOT to close (Highway) 89 at 10 a.m.,” Stump said, adding that the northbound lane was reopened at about 4:40 p.m., and the southbound lane was reopened at about 6:30 p.m.

During the closure, traffic was detoured to Willow Creek road, and drivers experienced reported delays of five to 10 minutes.

The repaired section of pavement will be fully reconstructed in coming months, as the contractor, Asphalt Paving & Supply, switches traffic onto the new lanes.

“It’s just a temporary repair,” Stump said of Wednesday’s work. He added that the fix was needed because traffic will remain on the old highway for another two months or so.

Paving is planned for the end of February on the new lanes that are under construction, he said, and the traffic switch to the new lanes “is anticipated … in the next 60 days, weather permitting,”

Work has been underway since about mid-June on the Highway 89 widening project that takes in about a mile – roughly from Deep Well Ranch Road to just south of the 89/89A interchange.

The project is scheduled to be complete by August 2019, and Stump said that has not changed, despite the recent winter weather and the added repairs.

“Obviously, there a little bit of impact because of the rain and snow,” Stump said. “But it’s still on track.”

Central to the project is a new roundabout intersection at Perkins Drive, with the entrance to the city’s Antelope Hills Golf Course as the eastern leg, and the new James Lane as the western leg. Work is currently well underway on the new roundabout.

ADOT’s current project comes as the latest in a series of widening efforts in the Highway 89 area.

In 2014 and 2015, ADOT completed a $17.4 million widening of the highway between Chino Valley and the Deep Well Ranch Road intersection. That project included two new roundabouts – the one at Deep Well Ranch Road, and another at Kalinich, closer to Chino Valley.

Then in 2016, the City of Prescott and Yavapai County completed the $5.6 million realignment of Willow Creek Road, which ties in with Highway 89.

And in summer 2018, the city completed its $5.1 million Highway 89 widening from just south of Highway 89A to just south of the Phippen Museum – a project that included the Phippen Roundabout.

Also a part of the ongoing project is a lane improvement at the 89/89A interchange, which will involve lengthening of the second southbound left-turn lane to extend all the way between the two signals. During that part of the construction, the number of lanes at the interchange will be reduced to one in each direction, which is expected to result in more traffic delays.

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