Tags Articles tagged with "Traffic"

Traffic

by -
ADOT

Drivers who use State Route 347 should plan for an overnight lane closure as Arizona Department of Transportation crews perform pavement-preservation work.

Northbound SR 347 will be narrowed to one lane between Riggs Road and Interstate 10 from 9 p.m. Sept. 13 to 5 a.m. Sept. 14.

ADOT will maintain one lane of travel northbound on SR 347, but delays are possible. Drivers should slow down and use caution around crews and equipment.

Schedules are subject to change based on weather and other unforeseen factors. For more information, please call the ADOT Project Information Line at 855-712-8530 or email Projects@azdot.gov.

ADOT photo

Department of Public Safety is investigating the cause of a five-vehicle collision that claimed the lives of a Maricopa woman and two children Wednesday.

The fiery crash occurred at approximately 9:52 a.m. in the westbound lanes of Interstate 10 between Wild Horse Pass Boulevard and Queen Creek Road.

Kim Frankel, 46, who had been a long-time teacher at Maricopa Unified School District, and her two young passengers, described as infants by DPS, were declared deceased at the scene.

The roadside tragedy was initiated in the eastbound lanes.

A 41-year-old commercial tractor-trailer driver from Mesa was traveling east on I-10 when he veered sharply left for an unknown reason. The tractor trailer struck a Chevy Tahoe, sending both vehicles through the median and over the cable barriers into westbound traffic.

Three vehicles, including the Toyota van driven by Frankel, were struck by the tractor-trailer rig.

Frankel’s van and the tractor trailer reportedly burst into flames after the crash, according to DPS. The driver of the tractor trailer sustained injuries and was transported to the hospital.

Two adults and two juvenile passengers in other vehicles were also transported to nearby hospitals for injuries.

The fatal crash shutdown the major artery into Phoenix for the entire day. Westbound lanes reopened around 6:45 p.m. that evening.

The DPS investigation is still ongoing.

https://www.gofundme.com/frankel-family-support

ADOT photo

Troopers with the Arizona Department of Safety are investigating the cause of a one-vehicle accident on State Route 347 Tuesday morning.

The rollover crash reportedly occurred Aug. 28 at approximately 8:38 a.m. about a half-mile south of Casa Blanca Road.

“Preliminary information is the female driver of a passenger vehicle lost control of the vehicle, which rolled over and into a fence,” said DPS spokesman Quentin Mehr.

Emergency responders transported the driver to Chandler Regional Hospital. The extent of her injuries is unknown at this time.

Traffic in the area is slowed, but no lane closures are reported.

 

 

Photo by Mason Callejas

At least one person was injured in a collision Thursday at the intersection of Porter Road and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

A PT Cruiser and a pickup truck were involved in the incident, which caused temporary lane closures. A woman was described as having lacerations from broken glass.

MPD is directing traffic at the location while investigating. The incident occurred around noon.

Water is over the road at both crossings on Rancho El Dorado Parkway.

Maricopa Police Department has closed both wash crossings on Rancho El Dorado Parkway due to water on the road.

Tucson and other communities south of the Maricopa area continue to have rain and flood warnings. That water is expected to flow north through the Santa Rosa Wash.

There is a flash flood watch in place until 8 p.m. for Pima County and southern and western Pinal County.

InMaricopa photo

Danger on the road rose last year in Maricopa, according to a state report published Tuesday.

The 2017 Crash Facts for the State of Arizona, an annual summary prepared by the Arizona Department of Transportation, showed vehicle accidents increased nearly 5 percent within city limits from the year before.

There were 298 automobile accidents reported in Maricopa in 2017 – earning the city a third-place rank in Pinal County for the highest number of crashes behind Casa Grande (761) and Apache Junction (456).

Maricopa placed second in the county in the number of alcohol-related crashes last year.

The city experienced 25 accidents that involved alcohol, up from 11 crashes in 2016. Casa Grande again led the category with 26 crashes; Apache Junction followed Maricopa with 21.

In 2017, people injured from alcohol related crashes rose by one (from 9 people the year before to 10).

There were zero crash fatalities attributed to alcohol last year. One death was caused by an alcohol-related crash in 2016.

Maricopa placed third in the number of injury accidents (87), number of property damage only crashes (210), and the number of persons injured in accidents (117). Casa Grande and Apache Junction preceded Maricopa respectively in rank in each of those categories in 2017.

A positive statistic reported in the data showed auto fatalities lowered from the year before.

The number of people killed in Maricopa auto accidents reportedly decreased from three deaths in 2016 to one fatality last year, according to the report.

The statewide report used data compiled from Arizona Traffic Crash Reports that are submitted to ADOT by state, county, city, tribal and other law enforcement agencies, according to the report.

Unincorporated area statistics are not broken down in the summary. View the report here.

Pinal County experienced nearly 4,000 traffic accidents last year – No. 3 in the state behind Maricopa County (93,596) and Pima County (11,707).

In 2017, 1,000 people were killed on roadways statewide.

 

ADOT

Pinal County residents have been paying an extra half-cent retail sales tax since April to fund future transportation projects.

Wednesday, a Maricopa County Superior Court Tax Court judge said that violates state law. That puts the breaks on plans to widen State Route 347, at least for the moment.

Now the battle may be fought inside the Arizona Court of Appeals.

Voters narrowly approved Prop 417 in November, the funding mechanism of the Pinal County Regional Transportation Authority’s Prop 416 that would provide a 20-year plan to create and improve roads. That plan seeks to add lanes to SR 347.

Phoenix-based conservative thinktank The Goldwater Institute filed suit in December, challenging the tax’s legality in the case Harold Vangilder, et al. v. Arizona Department of Revenue, et al. Goldwater later motioned the court to delay the collection of the tax.

Judge Christopher Whitten denied the request in March and the tax was implemented April 1. Those funds are held in escrow until the conclusion of the case.

Aug. 2, Whitten ruled the county-wide tax did not coincide with statute as it too narrowly targets a tax on retail and not on all sales tax categories, according to court documents.

The Goldwater Institute applauded Whitten’s most recent decision in a press release published to its website the day of the ruling.

“Thanks to the Court’s decision, Pinal County taxpayers are the real winners today,” Goldwater Institute Vice President for Litigation Timothy Sandefur said. “Had this sales tax gone forward, the damage to taxpayers’ wallets and to economic opportunity in Pinal County would have been immense.”

The Institute claimed the monies collected since April will have to be refunded by the county.

A statement on the Pinal RTA website challenged the judge’s ruling and argued voters knew in November the tax applies to all classifications and not just retail sales. Whitten said the wording of Prop 417 was “insufficient” to establish that.

Pinal RTA indicated the war over the funding may not be over.

“…We disagree with Judge Whitten’s ruling and will consult with outside counsel regarding an appeal to the State Court of Appeals,” according to the Pinal RTA statement.

“I’m disappointed with the ruling, but confident we will win on appeal,” Pinal County Supervisor Anthony Smith said. “The sooner we get this done, the sooner we reduce accidents, save lives and build for the future.”

Requests for comments from Pinal RTA General Manager Andy Smith, Pinal County spokesman Joe Pyritz, Pinal RTA Citizens Advisory Committee Member Tena Dugan, and Mayor Christian Price, who is a Pinal RTA Board Member, were not immediately returned.


This story has been updated to include remarks from Anthony Smith.

ADOT

Drivers on John Wayne Parkway should allow extra travel time this weekend while pavement repairs are made. Arizona Department of Transportation will be making repairs that require narrowing the roadway to one lane in each direction.

The following restrictions are in place between Edison and Smith-Enke roads this weekend:

  • SR 347 will be narrowed to one lane in each direction from at 9 p.m. Aug. 3 to 7 p.m. Aug. 5.
  • Work will occur in the right lane from 9 p.m. Aug. 3 to 7 p.m. Aug. 4.
  • Work will occur in the left lane from 7 p.m. Aug. 4 to 7 p.m. Aug. 5.

Crews are scheduled to mill out and replace the pavement in the 2-mile work zone. Schedules are subject to change based on weather and unforeseen factors. ADOT will maintain access to businesses while work is underway.

Farrell Road will be closed for reconstruction starting Monday, July 9, and re-opened to traffic Wednesday, July 18. This road segment begins just east of Palo Rojo Road, in the Palo Brea subdivision and ends just west of Porter Road. Drivers using this route should consider using State Route 347 and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway or Peters-Nall and White-Parker Roads as alternate routes.

Due to strong interest of Maricopa residents, the Public Meeting for the Pinal County Strategic Transportation Safety Plan will be extended to 4:30–7 p.m., July 12 in council chambers at City Hall.

Take survey here

This is an ongoing study effort that will produce a Pinal County Strategic Transportation Safety Plan.

Pinal County is divided between two Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), which are: Maricopa Association of Governments and Sun Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization, and one Council Of Governments (Central Arizona Governments) All three planning agencies have completed Strategic Transportation Safety Plans (STSP) for their respective planning areas. Pinal County is now developing a STSP that would combine relevant recommendations from all three safety plans and also meet current federal requirements for the Pinal County planning area. A cohesive plan for the County will help fill any gaps that may exist in the existing plans, such as the identification of specific regional safety projects for the Pinal County communities of City of Maricopa, Gila River Indian Community, Ak Chin Indian Community, Town of Florence, San Tan Valley, City of Apache Junction and unincorporated areas in Pinal County.

The Pinal County STSP will address the necessary steps and elements, from a regional transportation planning perspective, to reduce the risk of death and serious injury to all transportation users in Pinal County. The Sun Corridor MPO, in partnership with the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and Central Arizona Governments (CAG) is funding this Strategic Transportation Safety Plan for Pinal County utilizing Local Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funding from all three planning agencies. This project will develop a customized regional plan for Pinal County in order to address the issues and needs for Pinal County and its transportation users.

The Pinal County STSP will be developed in close coordination with Arizona’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP). This will ensure that federal requirements are met, statewide/local consistency is prevalent, and unique regional needs are addressed.

The primary outcome for the Pinal County STSP project will include the following:
Safety System Performance
Network Screening Methodologies for Prioritization of Transportation Safety Needs
Identification and Analyzation of Available Resources for a Transportation Safety Perspective
Regional Vision and Goals for Transportation Safety
Emphasis Areas, Goals, and Performance Measures
Transportation Safety Strategies
A Strategy to Improve Safety Project Development Process
Implementation Plan
Identification and Prioritization of Candidate Transportation Safety Projects
Benefit/Cost Ratio Tabulation
Pinal County STSP – Combining the Pinal County Portions of the MAG, CAG, and SCMPO Safety Plans into one Cohesive Document for Pinal County

For additional information, please visit the Sun Corridor at scmpo.org/pcstsp

Photo by Brooke Cook

Wild horses temporarily slowed the commute of morning commuters on State Route 347 Thursday.

At least two horses breached the fenced boundary that separates the Gila River herd from the busy roadway, according to witnesses.

Brooke Cook was heading north when she saw the horses crossing the road around 7 a.m. about a half mile south of Riggs Road.

“Traffic was calm, we just patiently waited for them to cross,” Cook said. “It was peaceful almost.”

Another motorist reported seeing a horse on the southbound side of the Gila River Bridge about a half-hour after Cook’s sighting.

A worker was reportedly cutting the fence to help the horse back to safety.

ADOT

 

The Goldwater Institute’s lawsuit against the Pinal Regional Transportation Authority Plan (RTA) is in the hands of a judge as of May 21, and a ruling is expected at the end of June or the beginning of July.

Whatever the outcome, RTA officials are moving forward with preparations to put the voter-approved project in motion. The project includes additional lanes on State Route 347. The half-cent sales tax to pay for the RTA went into effect April 1.

Andy Smith, RTA general manager, said the organization has been working with Maricopa and Casa Grande to seek grant opportunities for the east-west corridor. That four-lane, 21-mile project connecting Maricopa with Interstate 10 in Casa Grande was estimated in the election pamphlet to cost $67.2 million. That has now been refigured to $74 million.

The east-west corridor had been marked for Phase I but is now in Phase III (years 2029-33).

The widening of State Route 347 from Maricopa to the Maricopa County line has seen its estimated cost reduced from $28.8 million to $23 million. That work is slated for 2021-22, Phase I of the RTA.

Smith told the Pinal County Board of Supervisors the RTA is working with Maricopa Association of Governments and Gila Riva Indian Community.

“The RTA has pledged $100,000 to $150,000 to help facilitate funding” to help create a design concept report for SR 347 for the entire stretch from Maricopa to Interstate 10 in Maricopa County, he said, adding the City of Maricopa is part of the discussions as well.

He said the Department of Revenue is two months in arrears on its tax collections. The collections that started in April are held in escrow.

District 4 Supervisor Anthony Smith of Maricopa encouraged RTA officials to start moving as they await the ruling on the Goldwater case.

“Get as many things as shovel-ready as possible, especially the priority-one projects,” he said. “Because hopefully there will be a federal transportation bill that will come at some point or there will be grant opportunities.

“If we are prepared and we’ve got the engineering done and we’ve got maybe some of the right-of-way acquisition – and the more steps we have so that we’re truly shovel-ready – the more we’re going to get mileage out of the money that we put into this.”

Andy Smith said the RTA wants a representative of Arizona Department of Transportation on its board to help with more collaboration. Mayor Christian Price is on the board, Maricopa Public Works Director Bill Fay is on the technical Transportation Advisory Committee. Maricopa’s Tena Dugan and Terri Crain are members of the Citizen Transportation Advisory Committee, answering to the Board of Directors. Dugan chairs the committee.

The RTA includes 15 transportation improvement projects around the county.

PinalRTA.org


This story appears in the June 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.

Little has changed in the commuter traffic on State 347 of 10 years ago (left) and today.

Pinal County residents will have the opportunity to vote in November to approve a sales tax funding infrastructure improvements across the county.

For Maricopa, it could mean several direct improvements including additional lanes on major roads, including State Route 347, the securing of a right-of-way for the future Interstate 11 corridor, and public transportation expansion.

Proposition 417 would fund these projects with a half-cent county transportation excise (sales) tax. The revenue from Prop 417 would provide funding to the updated Regional Transportation Plan – Proposition 416 – which voters will also have the chance to approve in November.

The first phase of the transportation plan includes measures to widen State Route 347 to six lanes north of Maricopa and to create an “East-West Corridor” by widening Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and Val Vista Road to four lanes.

Revenue from Prop 417, which officials are estimating to be $641 million over its 20-year lifespan, will be exacted on any business transaction involving the sale of “tangible personal property” in Pinal County.

There is, however, a limitation built into the tax.

The 0.5 percent tax would only be applied to the first $10,000 of income from any given item.

For example, if you purchase a car for $12,000, $2,000 of that would not be subject to the tax since a vehicle is considered a singular item. If you purchase another vehicle for $10,000 and then add $2,000 worth of accessories all $12,000 would be subject to the tax since additions are typically considered separate items.

Maricopa City Councilmember Nancy Smith said she rarely supports tax increases, but she will consider it if it meets three criteria: A rigid timeline, voter approval and specified purpose.

Smith said she supports both Propositions 416 and 417.

“I can’t help but say we have to stand up and help ourselves and apply this half-cent tax, which is equivalent to $88 per family per year,” Smith said.

Pinal County Public Works Director Andrew Smith said it’s important to note these issues will be on a special mail-in ballot only. Last year, he said, when the issue was first poised to be on the ballot, there was some concern with the length of the ballot given the nature of the general election and all the other propositions it contained.

Supporters are working against a “no new taxes” mindset among several Maricopans as well as cynicism about the cooperation of Maricopa County and Gila River Indian Community in widening SR 347 all the way to I-10.

Andrew Smith said he appreciates the concerns specific communities have about the tax and transportation plan and how it affects them directly. However, they should have a macro view of this plan, which will improve the quality of life for everyone who does business, has a job, owns property or lives in Pinal County.

“Try and look at it as a resident of Pinal County,” Andrew Smith said.  “How do you get around? You do go to Maricopa County, you do go to Pima county, so this establishes a regional plan that will enhance the whole county and improve economic development.”

On a much longer timeline, the transportation plan is further considering the potential path of Interstate 11, which Pinal County hopes to bring into its boundaries, just west of Maricopa. Revenue from the tax will help preserve county rights-of-way in the area that could eventually give Maricopa direct access to the major highway.

“What I like about that being on the RTA is that it says our county is looking to influence I-11 and where it comes,” Nancy Smith said. “If we don’t have the money to secure the purchase of right-of way, then our chances become much slimmer at becoming part of that road, so I love that we’re planning ahead in that aspect.”

The Regional Transportation Plan also includes measures to improve public transportation by funding rapid transit services and expanding current transit services such as Park and Ride, Dial-A-Ride and Maricopa’s COMET.

Eligible voters should automatically receive ballots by mail. Voters can confirm they are on the mailing list by calling  the Pinal County Elections Office at 520-866-7550.

http://cagaz.org/RTA/documents/PRTA_Brochure_ReadOnly.pdf


This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

State Troopers are at it again.

The Department of Public Safety plans to conduct a special detail on Wednesday targeting commercial vehicles on State Route 347 and Highway 84. According to Sgt. Steven Sekrecki, the detail will last from 7 a.m. to noon.

Sekrecki said DPS has received complaints about the behavior of commercial truck drivers in Maricopa and Stanfield, including dairy and cattle trucks. He said though the detail is focused on commercial vehicles, the participating law enforcement officers will stop any vehicle committing violations.

Maricopa Police Department and Arizona Department of Transportation are also participating.

DPS has been running special traffic details around Maricopa during the past year in an effort to slow down drivers. Sekrecki has said the goal is not arrests but compliance.

The view north of John Wayne Parkway from Edison Road camera installed by ADOT.

Cameras the Arizona Department of Transportation uses to monitor State Route 347 traffic between the city of Maricopa and Interstate 10 now allow drivers to view conditions themselves via az511.gov.

Nine high-definition cameras mounted on traffic signals are available through the Arizona Traveler Information site, showing intersections from Riggs Road to the north to Farrell Road to the south.

“ADOT is always looking to improve traffic flow and safety,” ADOT traffic engineer Mark Poppe said. “Giving everyone access to the Maricopa cameras allows motorists to see traffic along SR 347 firsthand and make more-informed travel decisions.”

The SR 347 intersections are Riggs Road, Gravel Pit, Casa Blanca Road, Cobblestone North, Edison Road, Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, Honeycutt Avenue, Alterra Parkway and Farrell Road. The Honeycutt Avenue camera currently shows on the map incorrectly located at Honeycutt Road.

In 2016, ADOT installed a wireless communication system that monitors conditions on SR 347 and allows technicians in Phoenix to adjust signal timing accordingly. The system includes a series of infrared and video cameras, and the latter are now available to the public online.

Besides showing road conditions, traffic cameras are used to quickly spot crashes, allowing first responders to respond faster and allocate appropriate resources. By doing this, secondary crashes are reduced, along with traffic congestion.

ADOT maintains more than 300 traffic cameras across the state.

SR 347 at Casa Blance
SR 347 at gravel pit

A vehicle struck the front tire of a child’s bicycle Thursday morning as she attempted to peddle through a cross walk on her way to school at Leading Edge Academy, police said.

Ricky Alvarado, spokesman for the Maricopa Police Department, said the 12-year-old girl was thrown to the ground in the collision, but was not injured.

Maricopa Fire/Medical cleared the girl of injuries, and a call was made to her parents, Alvarado said.

Prior to the incident, Alvarado said MPD was working a minor vehicle accident at the intersection, causing traffic to back up in the area of Porter Road near Sequoia Pathway Academy.

As the girl approached a crosswalk near Sequoia Pathway Academy, Alvarado said a “driver waved her through, but wasn’t looking at traffic coming in the opposite direction.”

“The little girl got her bike to go across when there was another car coming in the opposite direction that couldn’t see because traffic was backed up there,” Alvarado said.

No citations were issued in the accident, in part because Alvarado said the girl rode her bicycle through the crosswalk, when bicyclists are required to walk their bikes through a crossing.

“Since technically she shouldn’t have been riding her bike across, she should have been pushing it across the street, there was no prosecution done on anybody or any violations since nobody was injured,” Alvarado said.

The driver involved in the collision was not impaired, Alvarado said. 

Photo by Penelope Cooper

The trailer of a semi-truck rig caught fire just south of Riggs Road on State Route 347 Thursday morning.

Though the rig itself did not initially block southbound traffic, law enforcement re-routed cars to eastbound Riggs Road in order for Gila River Fire Department and Sun Lakes Fire Department to respond to the scene and extinguish the blaze.

The contents of the trailer were destroyed.

Photo by Penelope Cooper

 

The Maricopa Police Department has forwarded charges against the drivers involved in a highly-publicized, road-rage incident that occurred Monday on John Wayne Parkway and Smith-Enke Road.

The charges against motorists Holden Elsea and James Kingery include disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace, said MPD Spokesman Ricardo Alvardo.

“The incident resulted in Elsea being struck in the face by Kingery and his driver-side window broken to his vehicle,” Alvarado said. “Elsea then damaged Kingery’s vehicle by striking the rear window with a tire iron.”

The incident was recorded on a cell phone and later posted to social media.

Alvarado said MPD decided to forward charges based on the facts and circumstances of the case “and after reviewing video of the incident.”

The disorderly conduct charges resulted from “engaging in fighting or seriously disruptive behavior which resulted in obstructing the flow of traffic on a highway,” Alvarado said.

MPD said the second charges were brought about after the men allegedly “disturb(ed) the peace of several citizens, who called and reported the incident.”

Alvarado said both men are aware of the pending charges against them.

The charges will be forwarded to the City Prosecutor’s Office for review and charging on behalf of the state of Arizona, Alvarado said.

“MPD wants to remind the motoring public, driving can be dangerous and motorists should use patience and their better judgement while driving. This case proves actions like this will not be tolerated and could lead to serious charges or worse yet, a serious accident and harm to other motorists,” Alvarado said.

 What appears to be an act of road rage was caught on camera Monday afternoon in Maricopa.

Maricopa resident Nathan Corp filmed the incident on his phone around 4 p.m. at the intersection of Smith-Enke Road and John Wayne Parkway.

“As I was pulling up to where they were stopped, the gentleman in the sedan came to a full stop, jumped out of his car, punched out the window of the SUV and started to punch the driver in the face,” Corp said.

Corp then shared the footage on social media.

The video shows the driver of a dark sedan get back into his vehicle which is parked in the left-hand turn lane of the intersection. The driver of the white SUV proceeds to exit his car, parked adjacently, and strikes the back glass of the sedan, shattering it.

Following the damage, both drivers re-enter their vehicles and head south on John Wayne Parkway.

“I don’t know what brought them to that point though. I didn’t see them driving recklessly or anything like that,” Corp said.

 Maricopa Police Department Spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said MPD is currently responding to the case.

“It was just reported to us so I have no information as of yet,” Alvarado said.

 

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.

A serious injury, multiple-vehicle crash has blocked the northbound lanes of State Route 347, according to the Department of Public Safety.

The accident is described as a rollover.

The collision was about three miles north of Maricopa, just north of Casa Blanca Road.

Drivers heading north are being directed onto Casa Blanca to Interstate 10.

The southbound lanes are open, but traffic is moving slowly and backup is lengthy while first responders provide assistance on the scene.

There is no estimated time to reopen the northbound lanes, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

 

 

By Ethan McSweeney

Two accidents in the southbound lanes of State Route 347 in Maricopa led to backups Monday evening as Fourth of July festivities were ongoing at Copper Sky Regional Park and Ak-Chin Village.

The bumper-to-bumper accidents, which occurred around 9 p.m. Monday just north of Bowlin Road, involved a total of six vehicles. No injuries were reported in either of the accidents, said Chip Wright, a spokesman for the Maricopa Fire Department.

In the first crash, one vehicle hit the back of another vehicle shortly before 9 p.m., Wright said.

For the second crash, a vehicle hit the vehicle in front it, pushing it into the next two vehicles a few minutes after 9 p.m.  It appears this four-vehicle accident was caused by the backup from the first crash, Wright said.

Wright said he isn’t sure whether the accidents were caused by drivers watching the fireworks, which were being set off around the time of the accidents at the Ak-Chin celebration and then at Copper Sky.

by -
Photo by Michael Barnes

By Ethan McSweeney

The Maricopa City Council approved an agreement with the Arizona Department of Transportation on Tuesday for the design of the planned State Route 347 overpass.

Under the terms of the agreement, the city will pay the Department of Transportation $525,700 toward the design of the overpass, which will span the Union Pacific Railroad tracks that cut through Maricopa. The city would be responsible for about 21 percent of costs that exceed the initial estimate with the rest of the costs falling on the state, according to the agreement.

The funds from Maricopa for the project will come out of the city’s Highway User Revenue Fund rather than Development Impact Fee (DIF) funds. After a brief discussion at the Tuesday night meeting, the present City Council members unanimously approved the terms, known as an intergovernmental agreement (IGA).

The wording in the agreement allows Maricopa to use DIF funds if city staff can find those funds.

“If DIF is available to fund this project, then that is the one we would pursue,” City Manager Gregory Rose said. “We would take as much as we can from DIF funds because they are so restricted.”

“HURF gives us a broader use, and so if you had to pick, you would want to pick something you know is a transportation-related project within the scope of DIF, that’s what you want to draw it from first,” Mayor Christian Price said. “But if you can keep HURF in reserve, that allows you the option of using HURF for other transportation projects that aren’t so strictly located as DIF is.”

Last year, the Department of Transportation placed the State Route 347 overpass in its Five-Year Program with hopes to finish the project by 2020.

The project will cost about $55 million to complete, according to ADOT, with the city of Maricopa contributing about $8 million, which will be spent in increments over the next few years.

The overpass is intended to ease traffic backups that occur on State Route 347 in Maricopa at the railroad crossing, according to ADOT.

A wrong-way driver was the cause of a traffic backup on State Route 347 this morning, according to the Department of Public Safety.

An elderly male driver was traveling south in the northbound lanes but stopped just north of the junction with Maricopa Road.

Traffic had already slowed as drivers tried to avoid a collision and morning commuters backed up in the northbound lanes around 6:30 a.m.

Though DPS noted several collisions caused by the incident, the only injury reported was a motorcycle driver who apparently ran into the back of another vehicle. He sustained a non-life-threatening upper torso injury and was transported to the hospital.

Speeding, impaired driving, lack of restraints were key factors

Fatalities on Arizona roads jumped by more than 100 in 2015.

Arizona Department of Transportation

The figures remain preliminary, but it’s already clear that motor-vehicle crash fatalities on Arizona roadways increased in 2015 – and that speeding, impaired driving and failure to use seat belts and other restraints contributed significantly.

At present, the Arizona Department of Transportation is reporting 891 motor-vehicle crash fatalities for 2015. That number, which is incomplete while ADOT collects reports from law enforcement entities around the state, surpasses the 773 fatalities in motor-vehicle crashes during 2014.

Data through September 2015 show that speeding, impaired driving and failure to use seat belts and other restraints were each factors in more than a third of motor-vehicle crash fatalities.
The increase in fatalities has leaders of state agencies that look after the safety of motorists calling for Arizonans to reflect on how they act in the driver’s seat.

“We often talk about the E’s of traffic safety, including engineering, education and enforcement,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “But another E is equally important, and that is everyone. For Arizona to move toward our goal of zero fatalities, everyone must think about their responsibility to others when they get behind the wheel.”

ADOT collaborates with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Arizona Department of Public Safety and Arizona Department of Health Services on goals in the Strategic Highway Safety Plan, a comprehensive framework for reducing fatalities and serious injuries on all public roadways. Emphasis areas include speeding and aggressive driving, impaired driving, occupant protection and motorcycle safety.

“A significant cause of fatal crashes in Arizona, in addition to impairment and failing to use seat belts, is speed, unsafe lane changes and following too close,” said Col. Frank Milstead, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. “Aggressive driving is a crime and puts everyone on the road at risk. If you see it, report it.”

Alberto Gutier, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, said it’s especially important for drivers to understand how poor decisions can end in tragedy.

“Alcohol is involved in more than a third of the fatal crashes across the state,” Gutier said. “Everyone should be aware of just how devastating impaired driving is in this state, and those who put innocent lives at risk by doing so should be prepared to face the consequences.”

“It’s important to securely buckle up all of your passengers,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. “Creating a healthy environment inside your vehicle includes the use of seat belts and zero distractions. That email or text can wait.”

A final number for 2015 fatalities will be available when ADOT publishes its annual Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report later this year.

The highest annual number of motor-vehicle crash fatalities in Arizona occurred in 2006, with 1,301 on highways and local roads. In the five years preceding 2015, the toll was 773 in 2014, 844 in 2013, 831 in 2012, 754 in 2011 and 762 in 2010.