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Overpass

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The first girder stretches above the railroad tracks and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. Photo by Jim Headley

The first girder was placed  Saturday night as construction of the overpass advances. The 82-foot girders are support beams for the bridge that will carry traffic over the railroad tracks and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. The girders arrived on flatbead trucks and were placed with cranes by Southwest Industrial Rigging, which teamed with Arizona Department of Transportation on the overnight work.

Detours, traffic-signal timing and trains combine for frequent backups through the overpass construction zone. Photo by Jim Headley

 Getting across the city of Maricopa can become challenging, if not seemingly impossible, at times with traffic backing up in three directions. 

It is all expected with the construction of the new SR 347 Overpass that’s going on in the central part of the city. 

Steve Elliott, Arizona Department of Transportation assistant communications director for public information, stated in a written email to InMaricopa, “With the SR 347 overpass project now in a very busy construction phase, we recommend that motorists plan ahead and budget extra time.” 

One major problem in the traffic patterns is the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway at its junction with State Route 347 in the heart of the construction zone. 

For those using Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, closing Honeycutt Road just east of 347, which is necessary to make essential improvements, has meant additional traffic at the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway intersection with 347. Some had used Pershing and Honeycutt as a way around that intersection,” Elliott wrote. 

 With heavy traffic, train delays combined with disrupted light cycles leave motorists on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway in longer and longer backups. 

ADOT monitors traffic flow in the project area to assess whether there are ways to minimize delays, but the fact remains that this is a busy construction zone and will remain so for the coming months,” Elliott wrote. “Traffic light timing around the railroad tracks is an ongoing challenge, even without a construction project going on, due to the number of trains passing through each day. ADOT works to adjust signals as needed to reduce delays caused when trains pass. When complete, the overpass will eliminate train delays and improve safety for those using SR 347.” 

 

 

Construction crews are busy on the overpass project between Honeycutt Road and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. Photo by Jim Headley

“I don’t think people realize that they can still get into the plaza by just continuing on down the road. It has been slowing us down a little bit.” Rose Murrufo, employee, Maricopa Business Center

Let’s face it, no one likes driving through construction zones.

Early this week Honeycutt Road was closed from Pershing Street to John Wayne Parkway to allow for the construction of the new railroad overpass. It will remain closed until summer.

While it does cause a lot of problems and navigation nightmares, the people of Maricopa are taking it all in stride.

One of the most seriously affected businesses is Mel’s Auto/NAPA Autocare Center. Owner Tena Dugan is getting ready to close their location and move somewhere else in Maricopa. She is unsure where or when the business will move.

The NAPA dealership has been at the corner of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and State Route 347 since the 1950s.

“Right now, we have three different locations that we’re looking at – it kind of depends on which one pans out the best,” Dugan said.  “It’s not just prices, it’s utilities. Infrastructure is a big deal in Maricopa when you’re trying to put in a business. While it may be the right price for the land, the cost to get that land to where it needs to be to build a building is so prohibitive that the more expensive piece of property is the better deal.

“Maricopa is such a relatively new town that the infrastructure is just not there in a lot of these vacant areas.”

Dugan has owned the store since 2002.

“It was a great location when we bought. It was a corner with lots of land. We don’t own it – we have a landlord. The City actually took a portion of the back and we’ve had our fence moved several times. Right now, this is not an optimal location,” she said. “My employees still come to work every day. We do the best job that we can do, and we rely on our loyal customers who keep coming back. They are the ones who keep us in business right now. We knew it was coming for a long time. We just didn’t know when.”

Businesses in Maricopa Business Plaza on Honeycutt Road have been affected by the traffic detours. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

 

With detours and construction everywhere around the store, NAPA’s business has suffered.

“It has been a substantial punch to my business. People can’t get to us. This is the absolute worst traffic nightmare I’ve ever seen in my whole life. I know you have to go backwards to go forwards. Sometimes you wonder,” she said, adding, “People are creatures of habit. You do what is habit. This is a very large traffic control change.”

With the construction still going on all around her, Dugan offered some advice.

“You have a choice in life. You can either adapt and overcome or you can worry yourself into the ground. I have a lot of employees who are relying on me to keep this business going – so that’s what we are going to do,” Dugan said.

Businesses in the Maricopa Business Center on Honeycutt Road are all still open, and there are still access points into the business plaza.

“I don’t think people realize that they can still get into the plaza by just continuing on down the road. It has been slowing us down a little bit,” said Rosa Murrufo, an employee at Metro by T Mobile.

Carol Steinke, a Maricopa north-side resident, said she is looking forward to the new overpass.

“If it means that will fly over the railroad tracks, I am all for it. I’ve been here 12 years and I go to that side of the railroad tracks a lot. I play bingo. I go to church. All of that’s over there and I live on this side. I’ll be happy. Sometimes we wait 20 minutes for a train that has people on it to go by,” Steinke said.

Joe Templin, owner of Joe’s Barber Shop in the Maricopa Business Center, said he was slow on Tuesday but added it’s not unusual to be a little slow on Tuesdays.

“I really haven’t found it too inconvenient. Of course, it is inconvenient, but it could be worse,” he said, adding the businesses in the plaza are very popular and established places to frequent.

“I just don’t see it hindering the business too much,” Templin said.

He is also looking forward to how traffic will flow in front of Maricopa Business Center after the overpass is completed. With the addition of Plainview Street, traffic coming from Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway will flow over to John Wayne Parkway right in front of the plaza on Honeycutt Road.

“Six months of construction, but it’s worth it in the end,” Templin said.



InMaricopa is a tenant of Maricopa Business Plaza.

Work on the SR 347 overpass continues along Honeycutt Road, which will be closed until summer between Pershing Street and John Wayne Parkway. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

According to Arizona Department of Transportation, Honeycutt Road is scheduled to close at State Route 347 for several months, beginning Dec. 6.

That means there will be no access from Honeycutt Road to John Wayne Parkway as activity on the SR 347 overpass project picks up significantly entering the second phase of construction.

ADOT will continue to maintain two-way traffic on Honeycutt Road, allowing access to nearby businesses as well as Pershing Street. Honeycutt Road will be closed to all traffic between Pershing Street and SR 347.

On the same day Honeycutt Road is scheduled to close, ADOT will open a newly built road – Plainview Street – that will help drivers navigate around the construction area.

Following are the recommended detours for motorists who normally use Honeycutt Road:

Eastbound travel:

  • Access Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway (MCGH) from SR 347
    • Turn north on the new Plainview Street (located just west of the Maricopa Unified School District building)
    • Proceed east on Honeycutt Road

Westbound travel:

  • From Honeycutt Road, turn south on the new Plainview Street (located just west of the Maricopa Unified School District building) to MCGH
  • Travel northwest on MCGH to SR 347

The closure is needed for crews to begin widening and making other improvements, such as adding new sidewalks, curbs and gutters, to the south side of Honeycutt Road.

Crews will also begin building the new elevation for Honeycutt Road, which will connect with the new section of SR 347 once the overpass is built. In addition, a new signalized intersection at SR 347 and Honeycutt Road will be built during phase two of construction.

The closure of Honeycutt Road at SR 347 is anticipated to be in place until summer 2019.

Road construction on Plainview Street and Honeycutt Road continues with the installation of sidewalks, concrete curbs and gutters, and building of the subsurface for the future road. Paving is expected to take place Nov. 1, 8 and 9.

Pershing Street will be closed on the south side of Honeycutt for crews to conduct work in that area from Nov. 1-9. A detour will be in place to re-direct traffic to Maricopa Groves Parkway.

Excavation for the retaining walls on the South side of the Union Pacific Railway began this week, with crews working from south to north. Construction of the bridge also continues as abutments and pier cross-members are put in place to provide support for the structure.

OverpassTracker.com

Road construction on Plainview Street and Honeycutt Road continues with the installation of sidewalks, concrete curbs and gutters, and building of the subsurface for the future road. A portion of Plainview will be paved on Oct. 17, with the remainder of the road being paved Oct. 19-20. Plainview Street will continue to remain closed after the paving is completed.

The following overnight closures are scheduled on Honeycutt Road in front of the Maricopa Unified School District Transportation Facility, east of Pershing Street:

• From 10 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, to 5 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 11.
• From 10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, to 5 a.m. Friday, Oct. 12.

The closures are needed to remove and relocate a water valve under the street.

Construction of the bridge continues as pier cross members are put in place to provide additional support for the structure. The bridge structural work is taking place away from traffic between the hours of 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. one night during the week. MCG will remain open for travel during this time with traffic shifted away from the work zone.

Schedules are subject to change based on weather and other unforeseen factors.

Head to www.OverpassTracker.com for an overview of the project, frequent updates on traffic impacts, project timelines, maps and videos of what the project will look like when complete. The City of Maricopa has also established a 24/7 Hotline for you to call and get answers to more specific questions or concerns at 520-316-6910.

Gov. Doug Ducey, running for re-election, addresses the Pinal Partnership. Photo by Michelle Chance

Gov. Doug Ducey highlighted a major project in Maricopa during a Friday morning networking event in Casa Grande.

The discussion happened at The Property Conference Center June 1. The event was hosted by Pinal Partnership.

Ducey said he wants to bring “commitment for resources” toward infrastructure projects in the region like Maricopa’s future State Route 347 overpass.

“State Route 347 (overpass) is going to be traveled every morning and every evening,” Ducey said. “It can use some investment.”

The $55 million project was partially funded from the city, the Arizona Department of Transportation and a $15 million TIGER grant. The grade-separation is projected to transport motorists over the Union Pacific Railroad by 2019.

Ducey’s half-hour long speech touted legislative actions at the state level. On the top of the list were tax cuts and 160,000 new private sector jobs in Arizona since 2015, according to the governor.

“The last time unemployment was this low, you were renting your movies at Blockbuster,” Ducey said.

Education spending was also considered a victory.

Ducey approved funding for a 20 percent salary increase for teachers last month. One percent of that figure was dispersed to districts last school year.

“We just finished one of the most significant Legislative sessions in our state’s history. These are teachers that have earned this pay increase and they deserve it because Arizona children are improving faster in math and reading than any other kids in the country,” Ducey said.

Arizona is working to combat its challenges, according to its highest elected official.

Ducey outlined the state’s plan to combat the opioid addiction crisis that has stricken most of the country.

Tackling Arizona’s portion of the nation’s border security is an issue Ducey said requires a careful balance.

While combating human trafficking, drug cartels and illegal immigration at the Mexico border, Ducey said keeping a positive relationship with Arizona’s No. 1 trade partner is also priority.

“I don’t want to see us build a wall around the economy,” he said.

ADOT – Drivers in Maricopa should plan for tonight’s road restrictions due to pavement work that is needed as part of the Arizona Department of Transportation’s State Route 347 overpass project at the Union Pacific Railroad.

The following street and lane closures are scheduled to be in effect from 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 29, to 5 a.m. Wednesday, May 30:

• Honeycutt Road will be closed from SR 347 to Pershing Street.
• SR 347 will be reduced to one lane in each direction from Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway to just north of Honeycutt Road.
• Detour signage will be in place to direct motorists around the traffic restrictions.

The overnight closure is needed as construction continues to progress on the new SR 347 overpass.

The future above-grade structure will resolve traffic congestion created at the existing street-level intersection of the state roadway with the Union Pacific Railroad track. Learn more on the project web page.

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A freight train rolls by as subcontractors drill shafts for the overpass. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Construction crews are drilling around 30 shafts 40-70 feet deep, filling them with tied rebar and concrete to form the foundations to support the columns for the overpass, according to the City of Maricopa.  Crews are working next to the Amtrak station on the south side of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

Construction crews are conducting removal of tree and debris in the project area as needed to clear the way for their work.  Later this week, crews will place a temporary driveway to the west of the existing driveway at the Amtrak Station at Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. The existing driveway will be removed and, later in the project the temporary driveway will be replaced with a permanent driveway in that location.

Next week (April 23) waterline crews will work to install water pipeline on the east side of SR 347 (off the roadway) beginning at Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and moving in a northerly direction. This portion of the waterline work along SR 347 will ultimately cross Honeycutt Road and end just north of Honeycutt Road.

Also scheduled for next week, crews will begin drilling approximately 30 shafts from 40-70 feet deep, which will be filled with tied rebar and concrete to form the foundations to support the columns for the overpass.  Crews are currently working off the roadway to tie the rebar as part of this effort.

Head to www.OverpassTracker.com for an overview of the project, frequent updates on traffic impacts, project timelines, maps and videos of what the project will look like when complete. The City of Maricopa has also established a 24/7 Hotline for you to call and get answers to more specific questions or concerns at 520-316-6910.

The SR 347 Overpass will create a bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR.) Traffic on SR 347 averages more than 31,000 vehicles per day and future (2040) projections show over 60,000 vehicles per day. There are currently 40 to 60 trains per day; the UPRR has plans to expand service, which would increase train traffic upwards of 100 trains per day. Additionally, the Amtrak station is located just east of the intersection and vehicular traffic is routinely delayed for its passenger operations. The completion of the Overpass project will drastically ease traffic congestion and increase safety in the area.

To prepare for upcoming work, crews will CLOSE Maricopa/Casa Grande Highway just east of Napa Auto Parts, scheduled for the night of Tuesday, April 3, beginning at 9 p.m. until approximately 5 a.m. Wednesday, April 4.

In addition, crews will also CLOSE Honeycutt Road, east of SR 347, scheduled for the night of Thursday, April 5, beginning at 9 p.m. until approximately 5 a.m. Friday, April 6.

Detour signage will be in place to direct travelers around the closures. These closures will allow crews to set concrete barriers and remove and replace striping, so that on the following morning, the roads will be open for travel with traffic shifted away from the upcoming work activity.

Head to www.OverpassTracker.com for an overview of the project, frequent updates on traffic impacts, project timelines, maps and videos of what the project will look like when complete. The City of Maricopa has also established a 24/7 Hotline for you to call and get answers to more specific questions or concerns at 520-316-6910.

The SR 347 Overpass will create a bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR.) Traffic on SR 347 averages more than 31,000 vehicles per day and future (2040) projections show over 60,000 vehicles per day. There are currently 40 to 60 trains per day; the UPRR has plans to expand service, which would increase train traffic upwards of 100 trains per day. Additionally, the Amtrak station is located just west of the intersection and vehicular traffic is routinely delayed for its passenger operations. The completion of the Overpass project will drastically ease traffic congestion and increase safety in the area.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Another long-standing structure in the Heritage District went down Thursday morning. The former Pinal County Sheriff’s Office substation that most recently served as the F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank was turned into scrap while subcontractor Breinholt Construction also scooped up the pavement of the parking lot. Former fire department administration buildings in the same lot are next on the list as the Arizona Department of Transportation prepares for Ames Construction to begin work on a new overpass across the railroad bridge. Earlier this week, Spoon’s diner, the Copa Center and other structures were demolished.

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Copa Center and Spoon’s diner were demolished Tuesday morning as Arizona Department of Transportation started to clear land it acquired for an overpass across the railroad tracks. There are about three weeks of demolitions in store as well as utility work.

A freight train rolls across SR 347, delaying traffic in a familiar scene for Maricopans. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Construction trailers for the overpass are expected to be in place in Maricopa by the end of the week.

But that is not the beginning of construction.

Maricopa Public Works Director Bill Fay said Ames Construction, the contractor for Arizona Department of Transportation, has not yet submitted a formal calendar to ADOT. Ames is also working on major projects like the South Mountain Freeway.

Fay said Ames has been working on value engineering analysis with ADOT. That could involve installing longer girders for the same money as the planned girders.

“They have plenty of time to start construction,” Fay said. “Even if they were to sit another four months.”

The planned overpass, or grade separation, will carry John Wayne Parkway traffic across the Union Pacific tracks on a bridge.

The construction trailers are planned to be placed south of the tracks near Honeycutt Avenue.

The city held a formal groundbreaking ceremony for the project Nov. 20.



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Traffic waits at a light at the Union Pacific tracks, where an overpass is planned.

Though overpass construction is delayed, Arizona Department of Transportation intends to begin tearing down structures on properties it owns in the Heritage District in mid-February to make way for the overpass.

Those properties include the former fire department administration buildings, the Copa Center and the former sheriff’s office building that used to house F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank.

Maricopa Fire/Medical Department has relocated its administration to 45654 W. Edison Road across from Fire Station 575. F.O.R. has moved its food distribution to Santa Cruz Elementary School while it prepares its new property beside the blue Business Barn south of the railroad tracks. Senior citizens who used to patronize the Copa Center for games and gatherings have also been relocated to Santa Cruz Elementary.

Actual construction of the overpass is expected to begin later in February or early March, delayed by contractor Ames Construction’s continuing work on an earlier project. ADOT spokesman Tom Herrmann said an official start date for construction has not been set.

City Councilmembers (from left) Nancy Smith, Henry Wade, Peggy Chapados, Mayor Christian Price, Vice Mayor Marvin Brown, Vincent Manfredi and Julia Gusse turn dirt for the formal groundbreaking ceremony Monday. Photo by Mason Callejas

An infrastructure project 15 years in the making finally broke ground Monday morning.

City officials broke ground for the overpass at State Route 347 and the Union Pacific Railroad crossing.

A who’s who of Maricopa leadership came out to a vacant lot on John Wayne Parkway and Honeycutt Road, property that will be beneath the future overpass, to witness the ceremonial launch of the historical event.

“When we’re here today on this momentous and historic day, it’s not because we just decided that yesterday we needed an overpass and we just finally got around to doing it,” said Mayor Christian Price speaking to a sizeable crowd. “It’s because it’s been in the works for 15 years.”

Along with city council members and staff, Price also reunited with the city’s former leaders to break ground on the State Route 347 overpass above the Union Pacific Rail Road crossing.

Former Mayors Edward Farrell, Kelly Anderson and Anthony Smith attended the groundbreaking.

Price honored his predecessors with a gift for their contributions to the overpass.

“I think this goes way, way back to probably August of 2003 when Mayor Farrell formed the committee to incorporate because if we hadn’t taken the step to incorporate we would not be here because we didn’t have the political clout to do this,”

Farrell is the first mayor of Maricopa. He led the once-small town toward cityhood over 15 years ago.

I think it’s awesome, as Kelly can agree with me because we were here from day one, and at day one that overpass was a priority. For the mayors that follow after us to take it where we left off – Mayor Smith starting it in 2008 – and Mayor Price to take it from third-base-to-home, he did an outstanding job. It’s a very special day,” Farrell said.

Smith, now a Pinal County supervisor said the overpass is one step in a long line of upcoming improvements to the 347.

“This is kind of a warm up for really where we are heading in the future, so I know it’s difficult, but we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Smith said.

City leaders braced residents to be patient with the project’s related traffic delays. Construction is slated to being by Nov. 25. Until then, Price said it’s time to celebrate.

“Congratulations, we’re getting an overpass,” he said.


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A freight train rolls across SR 347, delaying traffic in a familiar scene for Maricopans. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A formal groundbreaking for the construction of an overpass on State Route 347 across the Union Pacific Railroad tracks will take place Nov. 20. A ceremony is set at 10 a.m. at the northeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Honeycutt Road.

Coming in more than $5 million under project estimates, Ames Construction was chosen as the general contractor to build the overpass and realign local streets. Arizona Department of Transportation spokesman Tom Hermann said the work will begin within 60 days of Ames being selected, which occurred Sept. 15.

Based in Scottsdale, Ames has 750 days to complete the project. Its winning bid was $23.1 million. The City of Maricopa is contributing almost $14 million to the project, which has a total estimate of $55 million.

The first construction is expected to take place away from the current roadway.

“The early stages of the project will mean few, if any, traffic restrictions,” Hermann said. “Most of the work will be done in the future path of SR 347, east of the current alignment. We recognize the importance of both SR 347 and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, and we’ll work to keep any restrictions to a minimum.”

The project will create a six-lane overpass from Hathaway Avenue south to Desert Cedars Drive. It includes the realignment of Honeycutt Road, Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and Honeycutt Avenue.

 


A version of this story appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

The eastbound lane of Maricopa/Casa Grande Highway just east of SR 347 will be closed Oct. 17-19 from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night. Traffic will be shifted to the center lane. The lane closure is due to utility relocation in preparation for the SR 347 Overpass.

Head to www.OverpassTracker.com for an overview of the project, frequent updates on traffic impacts, project timelines, maps and videos of what the project will look like when complete. The City of Maricopa has also established a 24/7 Hotline for you to call and get answers to more specific questions or concerns at 520-316-6910.

The overpass is tentatively scheduled to see the beginning of construction late this year.

Coming in more than $5 million under project estimates, Ames Construction was chosen as the general contractor to build an overpass across the Union Pacific tracks at State Route 347.

Based in Scottsdale, Ames has 750 days to complete the project. Its winning bid was $23.1 million.

The State Transportation Board selected the contractor at its Sept. 15 meeting in Tuba City. Because the bid was 18.5 percent under the department’s estimate of $28.3 million, it was pulled off the consent agenda for a full discussion before its approval.

Mayor Christian Price said a “very tentative” date of Nov. 20 has been scheduled for the formal groundbreaking, but those arrangements are still in flux.

Other companies that bid on the project were Pulice Construction, Haydon Building Corporation, J. Banicki Construction (all in Phoenix and all under the state’s estimate), Coffman Specialties of San Diego, which was about $300,000 over the estimate, and FNF Construction of Tempe, which was almost $1 million over the estimate.

The project will create a six-lane overpass from Hathaway Avenue south to Desert Cedars Drive. It includes the realignment of Honeycutt Road, Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and Honeycutt Avenue.

ADOT described the work as “constructing bridges, grading, aggregate base and asphaltic concrete, retaining walls, pipe culverts, curb and gutter, raised medians, sidewalks, and fencing. Additional work includes striping, signing, lighting, landscaping, traffic signals, and related work.”

Last year, Ames Construction completed the Hell Canyon Bridge on State Route 89 in Yavapai County. Ames is also working on the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway.

Transformation of the Maricopa skyline is beginning its early phases as demolition crews tear down three properties in the Heritage District this week.

First buildings torn down for overpass construction

  • 44600 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway
  • 44302 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway
  • 44617 W. Honeycutt Road

The work located along Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and Honeycutt Road comes in preparation for construction of the SR 347/Union Pacific Railroad overpass that is slated to begin later this year.

Of the two residential properties on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway that were demolished, one was a structure used earlier in the year for Maricopa Police Department tactical training.

The third building, an equipment shed on Honeycutt Road, is also in the process of being torn down.

Workers are also removing foundations, fencing and vegetation at demolition sites.

Breinholt Contracting Company Inc. began demolition Wednesday and crews are expected to end the work July 12.

The Arizona Department of Transportation awarded the company $27,900 for the demolition, according to the Arizona State Transportation Board website.

ADOT went out to bid two weeks ago for the $37 million overpass construction, and will open the bids to candidate contractors Aug. 25. The full project, which includes realigning traffic flow on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and Honeycutt Road, property purchase and demolition, is estimated to cost $55 million.

ADOT Spokesman Tom Herrmann said overpass construction will begin in the fall.

“It will probably be October that we’ll actually start work on the bridge itself,” Herrmann said, adding the dates of future demolition projects in the Heritage District are yet to be scheduled.

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Expected and unexpected traffic delays have resulted from prep work near the intersection of Sate Route 347 and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

Though groundbreaking for the construction of the overpass is expected in autumn, preparation work has been obvious along John Wayne Parkway from Hathaway Avenue to Alterra Parkway. That has already impacted traffic, and the City of Maricopa launched a webpage to keep residents apprised of road activity.

OverpassTracker.com offers updates and maps and links to the project page hosted by Arizona Department of Transportation.

Work this spring included relocating utility lines on portions of State Route 347, Honeycutt Road and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. Workers moved the fire administration building off its site in the path of the overpass to its temporary location on Edison Road. Parking shelters were also removed. Much of the work affecting traffic was done at night, but some utility work unexpectedly clogged daytime traffic as well.

The overpass webpage and a hotline (520-316-6910) were created to keep citizens informed of such changes.

The $50 million project creates six lanes on a bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks to relieve the convergence of more than 31,000 cars and 40 trains a day.

Crews did night work to lessen some of the impact on traffic flow. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

This article appears in the July issue of InMaricopa.

Mayor Christian Price and Councilmember Vincent Manfredi look over the options for a possible pedestrian crossing to coincide with the overpass. Photo by Mason Callejas

A possible pedestrian bridge spanning the Union Pacific Railroad was discussed on Tuesday during an open house at Maricopa City Hall.

Members of the city’s planning department and contracted architects met members of the public and local officials in the lobby at City Hall to present three ideas for a pedestrian bridge, which the city hopes will help with foot and bicycle traffic trying to traverse the tracks when trains are present.

J2 Engineering and Environmental Design firm has been contracted by the city to help with the project, and was on hand to answer questions about the designs.

“[The proposed designs] each possess their own unique qualities,” J2 senior landscape architect Dean Chambers said. “They do come with a price tag, though.”

The first design, the “Maricopa Circle,” is the most visually stimulating design, including a snake-like suspension bridge that would hang over the current John Wayne Parkway and UPRR intersection with greenspace/plaza areas at either end.

See Maricopa Circle design

“The broad turns on either side were designed with cyclists in mind,” Chambers said.

The turns, he added, are still not entirely accommodating to cyclists in some areas, however. A longer ramp to fully accommodate bike riders would be cost prohibitive.

“If you’re a skilled rider, then maybe you could make it,” Chambers said. “But most [cyclists] would have to walk their bikes.”

Estimated costs for the Maricopa Circle design are already around $20.9 million.

The second design, the “Maricopa Station,” is another separate structure with a more simply designed “trellis-type” bridge. Its proposed location would be several hundred yards to the west of the overpass, connecting the northwestern portion of the Heritage District with the area around Maricopa High School.

See Maricopa Station design

The design is simple and would fully accommodate cyclists, Chambers said. However, it would require the purchase of land on either side of the tracks, bringing the price tag up to around $17.1 million.

The last and cheapest design pitched was dubbed the “Overpass Link.” Its proposed design includes utilizing the sidewalk on the overpass itself and building two small plazas on the western side of the overpass at either end, where there will be ramps and small parks.

See Overpass Link design

The drawback to the Overpass Link, Chambers said, is that cyclists are not allowed to ride in the roadway on the overpass; the agreement with the Arizona Department of Transportation prohibits it.  Cyclists will have to walk their bikes on the side walk to cross the overpass.

These designs are tentative, according to city officials, and will be discussed in detail at future city council and planning-and-zoning meetings.

Lane closures are scheduled on State Route 347 from just south of the railroad tracks to just north of Garvey Avenue from Sunday, June 11, through Thursday, June 15, from 8 p.m.- 5 a.m. for utility relocation in preparation for the SR 347 Overpass Project. Traffic will be able to get through, but expect delays.

 

map

  

No turns will be permitted from SR 347 east onto Honeycutt Road during the lane restrictions. Traffic will be detoured onto Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, then up through Pershing Street to get back to West Honeycutt Road.

 

A utility company is being blamed for the traffic tie-ups in Maricopa this week.

While Arizona Department of Transportation has been working nights around the intersection of State Route 347 and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway in preparation for the overpass, some daytime work has caused a logjam for northbound drivers.

Southwest Gas is relocating a gas line in the area, also in preparation for the overpass.

“They received a permit for the work but did not have an approved traffic control plan,” ADOT spokesman Tom Herrmann said. “The city stopped the work until a traffic control plan is approved and the city has a chance to communicate that to the community.”

Northbound SR 347 was narrowed to one lane, though both southbound lanes were open. Even with a new traffic plan, Hermann said there will still likely be traffic issues during the day.

The ongoing closure of Farrell Road at Porter Road further exacerbated the problem, lengthening the alternate routes by several miles.

Mayor Christian Price stated in Facebook postings said the city had “all over” ADOT and SWG, “but again our power is pretty limited when it’s just in their hands and we’re not updated.”

When traffic is congested at SR 347 and MCG Highway and eastbound Farrell is closed, the long alternatives for northbound traffic are to drive south to Peters and Nall Road, east to White and Parker Road, and north to MCG Highway, or to drive west on Farrell Road to Ralston Road, north to State Route 238 and east to John Wayne Parkway.

Linemen prepare a power pole on Honeycutt Road for a shift. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The overpass project in the middle of Maricopa has a lot of moving parts just for preparation. One of those parts is utility poles throughout the area.

Power lines on State Route 347 and Honeycutt Road are being affected by the pending construction.

“We are installing underground power cables and removing overhead power lines and poles,” ED3 Operations Manager Evan McCullough said.

The power line on SR 347 from Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway to Hathaway Avenue is being removed. Honeycutt Road will become essentially an onramp to the overpass, requiring ED3 to raise the height of its power poles along Honeycutt east of SR 347.

The poles along Honeycutt are also being re-spaced.

Starting Sunday, May 14, the westbound lane of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway will be closed from Pershing Street to State Route 347.

The northbound lanes of SR 347 from Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway until just before Honeycutt Road will also be closed. The closures will continue Sundays – Thursdays from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Thursday, May 25.

During the closures, general traffic will still be able to get through, but expect delays. Semi trucks will be rerouted to use White and Parker Road to Smith-Enke Road.

The overnight closures are necessary to relocate gas lines in preparation of the SR 347 overpass project.

Photo by Mason Callejas

The Maricopa Police Department conducted a training exercise Wednesday in one of the buildings slated to be demolished to make way for the coming overpass.

The home, formally owned by Rilla Gomez, was purchased by ADOT as part of the SR 347 overpass project and has since been used as a tactical training ground for the MPD.

This is the third time the department has conducted training at the condemned property which Chief Steve Stahl said has provided his officers an opportunity for more hands-on training.

“Very rarely will we do stuff like this,” Stahl said. “But you have to train to push the envelope so you know you’re capable when that time arrives.”

MPD often has an opportunity to train in newly constructed homes, giving officers a chance to learn floorplans and layouts. However, Stahl said, in a new home there are drawbacks to conducting exercises like this.

“You always have to be careful not to break things,” Stahl said. “Here we have the opportunity to press the envelope a little bit more.”

Not being concerned with delicacy, officers were able to train using live training ammunition and real light sound diversionary devices (LSDD), otherwise known as flashbangs.

Arizona Department of Transportation public information officer Tom Herrmann said this will likely be the last training exercise at this property as demolition will likely begin in the next few weeks.

Construction of the SR 347 overpass at the Union-Pacific Railroad crossing is set to begin in the fall.

MPD officers train for dangerous situations in a home set to be demolished in the Heritage District. The house was acquired by ADOT in preparation for construction of the overpass project. ADOT photo

While Lt. Mike Campbell hopes Maricopa Police Department officers never need to enter a home to remove a barricaded suspect, a partnership with the Arizona Department of Transportation has helped them prepare, just in case.

With ADOT preparing to build a bridge carrying State Route 347 over the Union Pacific Railroad, officers have been able to train twice in a house acquired on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. The home eventually will be demolished to make way for a new alignment of Plainview Street that will connect Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway to Honeycutt Road and SR 347.

Campbell said the partnership ensures that the department’s Special Response Team has the opportunity to train for potentially life-or-death situations. That included practicing how to enter a home with a dangerous suspect inside, breaking down doors and methodically working their way through the building.

“There are very few opportunities for us to train for these rare but dangerous situations,” Campbell said. “Every time our officers can experience the challenges that come with entering a building in a hostile situation means we can do a better job if this kind of situation arises. This makes our officers better at their jobs and it makes Maricopa a safer place for our residents.”

ADOT photo

ADOT’s training collaborations like the one that took place this month in Maricopa date back to construction of State Route 51 in the early 1990s.

Just last summer, ADOT-acquired properties along the route of the South Mountain Freeway were used to train fire and law enforcement officers from more than a dozen agencies. That included SWAT teams using homes to practice responding to hostage situations and the Phoenix Fire Department, which trained 48 ladder companies and scores of new recruits.

ADOT works side-by-side with emergency responders every day, said Brian Rockwell, ADOT assistant chief right of way agent.

“Police officers willingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect all of us in dangerous situations,” Rockwell said. “When we have the opportunity to help them train, as we did here, we’re not only happy to do that but we consider it part of our service to the community.”

Construction of the SR 347 bridge begins this fall. The two-year, $55 million project will carry traffic over the railroad tracks on a path just east of the current SR 347. It will alleviate congestion on a road that is expected to see traffic double to more than 60,000 vehicles a day by 2040 and save drivers the time of waiting for trains to cross the highway. The area now sees 40-60 trains a day, a number that is expected to reach 100 daily in the next 20 years.

ADOT photo

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

State Route 347 cannot be shut down during construction, and no property access can be cut off.

Arizona Department of Transportation hosted an informational meeting Wednesday to update residents on the upcoming overpass project. ADOT and consulting firm EPS answered concerns about the project itself and the impact of construction.

The project builds an overpass over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks at State Route 347. Construction is expected to begin in late fall.

Project engineer Elijah Williams, a familiar face at these meetings for years, is president of EPS, which was hired by ADOT to design the overpass. He presented the update to a packed board room at the Maricopa Unified School District.

Williams said EPS will recommend to the construction contractor the timeline for putting the project together. That involves not only the overpass but also new street alignments north and south of the railroad tracks. See ADOT 3D video models

“These bridges, they’re the things that take the longest to build. So they’re going to want to start on those early and not want to get into disrupting traffic for as long as they can avoid it,” Williams said.

Honeycutt Avenue, next to Maricopa High School, will be realigned, connecting with State Route 347 a little farther southeast than its current intersection. More extensively, Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway will be realigned to take traffic north to Honeycutt Road by utilizing a realigned Plainview Street next to MUSD’s district office and transportation department.

A traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of Honeycutt Road and Plainview Street. The traffic signal currently at SR 347 and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway will be moved to SR 347 and Honeycutt Road.

Part of the current SR 347, where it passes long-time business like Headquarters and NAPA, will remain in place, passing under the new overpass, and become the access to eastbound Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

On SR 347 itself, there will be three lanes both directions between Edison Road and the current alignment at Desert Cedars/Alterra Parkway south of the First Baptist Church.

Though endangered in the early designs of the overpass, the church, Amtrak station and NAPA Auto Parts will not have to move.

The project is estimated to cost $55 million. Maricopa’s contribution to that is just short of $14 million. The city approved an intergovernmental agreement with ADOT on Tuesday for the construction of the overpass.

Bob Marsh, a resident of Desert Cedars, said when currently-empty, commercial property south of the tracks is finally developed, new access points may need to be cut into SR 347. Those vacant parcels will be on both sides of the alignment.

Photo by Jack Jackson

Maricopa photographer Jack Jackson took photos by drone for the Maricopa Historical Society to capture the appearance of the city around the State Route 347/Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway intersection before construction of the overpass. The photos include a topside view of the iconic water tower. The photos will be considered “historical” within a couple of years as the overpass transforms the appearance of that part of the city, and the Society wanted a photographic catalogue of the area. MHS President Paul Shirk presented the photos at an April 3 meeting of the Society at Maricopa Public Library. Arizona Department of Transportation will present an informational update about the project on Wednesday.