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Arizona Department of Transportation

Don Pearce owns a Honeycutt Road salvage yard that is in the path of the planned overpass on State Route 347 at the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

When the grade-separation overpass on State Route 347 becomes a reality, it will alter several properties. Most are businesses.

Some will be bought and demolished. Others will have their access dramatically changed. All have to wait for the Arizona Department of Transportation.

“It’s teaching us patience,” said Pastor Jim Johnson of the First Baptist Church, which might be in the way.

The expected southbound path of the overpass removes the current dogleg curve to the west at Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and follows a straighter route. That would run the overpass over Maricopa Fire Department’s administration buildings, near F.O.R. Maricopa food bank, the former La Roca bar property, a salvage yard, part of Copa Center, NAPA Auto Parts, Spoon’s Café, the Amtrak station and First Baptist Church.

Several of those lots belong to the city. Maricopa bought and demolished La Roca last year. The MFD buildings and Park-n-Ride lot belong to the city as does the Copa Center. Of the other property owners, some are certain their property will be acquired by the city while others don’t know because of the uncertainties of ADOT’s plans.

There are anxieties for both as they wait for ADOT to move forward on its design.

“Until they finish the design to 30 percent, they won’t be able to tell us for sure,” Johnson said.

ADOT is using what it is calling Alternate H. That plan runs straight over First Baptist Church, which is more than 60 years old. While there has been talk at the city and state level of somehow accommodating the church into the plans, all Johnson knows for certain is ADOT prefers Alternate H.

“We’ve been investigating different properties in Maricopa,” Johnson said. “We’re trying to figure out what size property we’re going to need.”

The church had already been raising funds to build two other buildings on its 1.06 acres. If necessary, those funds could go toward purchasing a new property when combined with money from the city’s right-of-way acquisition. Its full cash value has most recently been assessed at $150,000. Its market value will be the point of negotiation.

Johnson is just as worried ADOT’s final plan will not force the demolition of the church but will bring the overpass traffic dangerously near the church and make access difficult.

Businesses on both sides of State Route 347 south of the tracks will have their access impacted.

“There will be a dead end on 347. There’ll be a dead end on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. They’ll put about 10 businesses out of business,” said Don Pearce, who does not think the overpass is necessary.

Pearce owns property full of salvaged vehicles next to Copa Center. It was four lots when he bought it and now is two parcels of a quarter-acre each.

He said there was once a home on the property, which is marked as residential, but that is just a concrete slab now. He put up the newer building he uses as garage, workshop and storage unit.

Whatever he uses the property for at the moment, it is definitely in the path of the overpass.

“They’re supposed to negotiate a price on it,” Pearce said.

He said some buyers had been interested in the property until the overpass discussion started. Now he’s worried he will not get the value of the property as real estate prices begin to rise. One of the lots has a full cash value of $46,367 and the other $48,764.

Pearce expects a bid soon on most of the contents of the lot. The vehicles that are not for sale he will move to another parcel.

“A guy called me from ADOT about my property the other day,” he said. “When I asked him how long it was going to be before I’d know anything, he said he didn’t have anything to do with purchasing, but it’ll take a year and a half to purchase the property.”

Acquiring right-of-way is the responsibility of the City of Maricopa. In March, the city council signed an intergovernmental agreement with ADOT to that effect.

ADOT is in the middle of a public-comment period on its updated five-year program. The Maricopa overpass is among ADOT’s suggestions to move forward on a quicker timeline. The State Transportation Board will finalize the projects and timelines for the five-year plan in June.

The project is set to receive $19 million from the state, $15 million from a federal TIGER grant and $15 million in local contributions.

Meanwhile, First Baptist Church has been consulting with attorneys who specialize in property value negotiations. Johnson said he has also spoken with leaders at Ahwatukee’s Mountain Park Community Church, which is going through a similar situation with the Loop 202 extension.

Like Pearce, he is concerned about rising real estate prices as First Baptist considers buying another property. He said not knowing yet what ADOT’s plans will mean for the church parcel has left them in a holding pattern as the church membership tries to figure out its future.

“We’re trying to do due diligence,” Johnson said. “We will trust in God that it will work out.”

This story appeared in the April edition of InMaricopa.

The Arizona Department of Transportation continues to gather comments for its proposed five-year construction program by reaching out to the public and communities statewide for their input on which projects should move forward over the next few years.

The second public hearing for the 2017-2021 Tentative Five-Year Transportation Facilities Construction Program is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, April 15, at the ADOT Administration Building Auditorium, 206 S. 17th Ave. in Phoenix. The monthly State Transportation Board meeting will follow the public hearing.

For this Tentative Five-Year Program, ADOT was able to recommend a few more expansion projects for Greater Arizona because of additional funding through the federal Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, as well as a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. These projects, aimed at enhancing key freight corridors in Arizona, otherwise would have remained in ADOT’s Development Program as projects not starting until six to 10 years out.

Among ADOT’s suggestions to move forward on a quicker timeline are two Interstate 10 widening projects in Pinal County (segments at State Route 87 to Picacho Peak and Earley Road to Interstate 8), two widening projects along US 93 and the State Route 347 railroad overpass project in the city of Maricopa. The SR 347 project received a $15 million TIGER grant and a $15 million local contribution to add to ADOT’s $19 million commitment.

ADOT’s proposal meets its goal of $260 million per year dedicated to preservation work, such as bridges in need of upgrades and pavement in need of repair.

The 2017-2021 Tentative Program is available for public review and comment at azdot.gov/fiveyearplan, where a “how to read it” guide is available. ADOT welcomes feedback through Survey Monkey at surveymonkey.com/r/CJY36HY, email at fiveyearconstructionprogram@azdot.gov and by calling 1-855-712-8530. The comment period ends at 5 p.m. on May 30.

The public comment period includes three public hearings around the state. The State Transportation Board will then make its decision in June about what will be in the final 2017-2021 Five-Year Program.

Here are details for the two remaining public hearings and the State Transportation Board’s June meeting. The first public hearing was held in Oro Valley last month.

April 15 at 9 a.m.: Public hearing and board meeting in the ADOT Administration Building Auditorium, 206 S. 17th Ave., Phoenix.

May 20 at 9 a.m.: Public hearing and board meeting in the City of Flagstaff Council Chambers, 211 W. Aspen Ave., Flagstaff.

June 17 at 9 a.m.: Board meeting in the City of Holbrook Council Chambers, 465 First Ave., Holbrook.

The Arizona Department of Transportation is set to deliver the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway three years sooner and at a cost savings topping $100 million.


ADOT finalized a public-private partnership Feb. 19 with the project team – Connect 202 Partners – that will serve in all three roles.

“This first-of-its-kind highway contract in Arizona has not only reduced the overall cost but allowed ADOT to accelerate the entire project, meaning motorists will be able to benefit from this critical freeway sooner,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “That’s especially important in light of transportation needs today and into the future.”

Construction is scheduled to begin in summer 2016. Pre-construction activities, including geotechnical and utility work and property acquisition and preparation, have been underway since spring 2015 after ADOT received final federal clearance to move forward.

The 22-mile freeway, expected to open by late 2019, will provide a long-planned direct link between the East Valley and West Valley and a much-needed alternative to Interstate 10 through downtown Phoenix. Approved twice by Maricopa County voters, the South Mountain Freeway will complete the Loop 202 and Loop 101 freeway system.

Connect 202 Partners will design and build the freeway corridor and provide maintenance for 30 years after construction. The team consists of Fluor Enterprises Inc., Granite Construction Co. and Ames Construction Inc., with Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc. as the lead designer.

The fixed $916 million contract for design and construction makes this the largest highway project in state history.

The amount required for the overall project is approximately $122 million less than anticipated because of innovative approaches Connect 202 Partners proposed for construction and engineering, as well as reducing the amount of property that must be acquired for the freeway.

While the phrase public-private partnership may evoke visions of a toll road, that isn’t the case with the South Mountain Freeway. Instead, this agreement, ADOT’s first for a highway project, provides the advantages of lower cost and shorter timeline that come from having one team not only design and build the freeway but also maintain it afterward.

The original plan called for construction of the freeway as nine individual projects. After receiving an unsolicited proposal for a public-private partnership in 2013, ADOT decided to seek proposals using that approach.

Connect 202 Partners was selected as the “best value” developer in December 2015 following an extensive review that led to a final list of three prospective developer teams in March 2015. ADOT encouraged these teams to propose innovative concepts that would save time and money while adhering to all environmental commitments.

Innovations proposed by Connect 202 Partners include optimizing the design of the freeway to reduce the amount of right-of-way needed and improving efficiency by reducing the amount of earth needing to be hauled by trucks. The project will include construction of a 15-foot-wide multi-use trail along the existing Pecos Road alignment from 40th Street to 17th Avenue.

The South Mountain Freeway, which will be paid for with state, federal and voter-approved regional transportation funding, has been a critical part of the region’s transportation plans since voters approved the Maricopa Association of Governments’ Regional Freeway Program in 1985. It also was part of the Regional Transportation Plan that Maricopa County voters approved in 2004.

“The award provides cost certainty on the largest transportation project in the Regional Transportation Plan,” said Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane, chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments. “We now know the range of savings we can put toward the rest of the freeway program.”

Halikowski said support from the Maricopa Association of Governments, city of Phoenix and Federal Highway Administration has been essential to advancing the South Mountain Freeway.

For more information, visit azdot.gov/SouthMountainFreeway.

The design of the overpass project involves more than a bridge over the railroad tracks.

An overpass in Maricopa will be more than an overpass – at least in terms of strategy.

The future grade-separation project at the State Route 347/Union Pacific Railroad crossing is actually three projects in one. The city of Maricopa is responsible for one of the primary elements, and the Arizona Department of Transportation is responsible for the other two sections, though they coordinate efforts.

1. Relocation of Amtrak Station

This effort is under design by the city. The Design Concept Report estimated the project will cost $4.64 million. The station is to be moved up the tracks less than a mile, northwest to Estrella Gin property.

The relocation will involve constructing a station building and associated structures, adding rail siding and creating drainage. City officials have been studying historical photographs and examples from other cities regarding the possible aesthetics of the building.

Concurrently, the relocation will also bring about moving a large object to the new site – the historic Zephyr train car, which belongs to Pinal County and is under the auspices of the Maricopa Historical Society.

2. Realignment of local streets

The overpass project will require realignment of streets on both sides of SR 347 and on both sides of the tracks.

“ADOT will work closely with the city and be responsible for reaching out to residents and property owners in the area,” ADOT Senior Community Relations Officer Paki Rico said.

Involved roadways on this part of the project are Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and Honeycutt Road on east of SR 347 near Maricopa Unified School District offices, and Honeycutt Avenue and Edwards Avenue on the west side near Maricopa High School. The improvements will extend the road next to the MUSD transportation department on Honeycutt Road all the way through to MCG Highway.

“We have known about this plan for years, and when our two facilities in the area were built we planned for this realignment,” MUSD Superintendent Steve Chestnut said. “We know this realignment will greatly improve the flow of traffic in Maricopa and we do not foresee any problems.”

ADOT is responsible for this element of the project. Paki said the estimated cost is $11.2 million if the street realignments are part of the overpass project and not an independent project.

3. Realignment of SR 347 and construction of roadway over UPRR tracks

The overpass is, of course, the meat of the project. The estimated cost of realigning SR 347 between Hathaway Avenue on the north and Alterra Parkway on the south plus building the overpass is $39.1 million, which is ADOT’s responsibility. Paki said that estimate is contingent upon the overpass being in the same project as the city street realignments.

Once ADOT reaches 30 percent completion on its design for this primary element of the project (possibly this year), the city of Maricopa can determine which properties will be in the path of the project and need to be acquired for demolition.

This story appeared in the February issue of InMaricopa News.

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Former mayor Kelly Anderson (center) and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (not pictured) were honored by the city council for securing funds for an overpass. Photo by Adam Wolfe

The Maricopa City Council took a moment to honor former Mayor Kelly Anderson and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick for their work in securing the funds needed for the State Route 347 overpass.

“Kelly is one of the first mayors we had [in Maricopa],” Price said. “He’s lived here his whole life and this city is at his heart.”

Anderson played an integral role in gaining the funding needed to build the overpass. As the 2015 Arizona State Transportation Board Chair he helped secure the TIGER grant and other funding from the Arizona Department of Transportation in order to get the overpass built.

Anderson will be stepping down as the transportation chair on Dec. 18.

Kirkpatrick was also honored for her role in allowing Maricopa to receive the $15 million TIGER Grant in October. She was unable to attend the council meeting, but her deputy district director, Blanca Varela, stood in to represent her.

“Congresswoman Kirkpatrick has been a steadfast and tireless supporter for federal funding for the project,” Price said. “On May 25, 2015, Congresswoman Kirkpatrick led an Arizona congressional delegation letter signed by every member of the house delegation requesting a $15 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recover (TIGER) Grant in support of the State Route 347 grade separation project.”

The council later approved a transfer of $23,218 from the city contingency fund to the Maricopa Fire Department for a temporary position that will help organize the necessary maintenance to the department’s vehicles. Chief Brady Leffler said he hopes the department’s maintenance will improve by taking the administrative portion of the work out of the mechanics hands so they can focus on repairing the vehicles and keeping the department up to ADOT standards.

“Prior to my arrival we were simply having spreadsheets done by mechanics,” Leffler said. “It was in complete disarray and the routine maintenance for the vehicles was not being completed. It wasn’t for a lack of effort; it was because we didn’t have the resources to complete that.”

The council also approved the purchase of a 2015 Quantum 100-foot Platform Ladder Truck for the MFD in an amount not to exceed $1.3 million, the purchase of dispatch consoles and associated equipment for the Copper Sky Police Substation Communications Center in an amount totaling $269,092.82 (plus an owner’s contingency of $50,000 for a total of $319,092.82), and adopted the “Maricopa Area Transportation Plan Phase I” final report. This includes the Transportation Master Plan and the Regional Connectivity Plan.

The Maricopa City Council also unanimously voted to cancel the next scheduled meeting on Jan. 5, 2016. The council will not reconvene until Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.

Traffic backups on John Wayne Parkway the past couple of weeks have irritated commuters who noticed a change in the traffic signals.

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is in the middle of a project.

“Our technicians have recently been installing new equipment, including control cabinets, for the traffic signals at about a dozen intersections along State Route 347 in the Maricopa area,” ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel said.

Now, crews are tweaking the timing of the signals.

“There is some trial and error involved when the equipment changes are made,” Nintzel said. “Our technicians have been able to follow up when timing concerns were raised. They’ve made changes, including timing adjustments in the past week. So far our folks tell me that has helped with traffic moving through the intersections.”

Nintzel said ADOT will continue to keep an eye out for further needed adjustments.