Construction officially began on the Sonoran Desert Parkway in June, but the road project
is hardly a new idea.

The first purpose-built parkway in the state of Arizona is more than a decade in the making.

Prop 469, a referendum aimed at helping fund part of the project, failed in November at the ballot box. But City Manager Rick Horst said the parkway is too important to let stall.
“You know, at the end of the day, if you’re always waiting for the cavalry to show up to bail you out, you’re probably going to fail more often than you succeed,” Horst said. “So, as a progressive community, both through our City Council’s leadership and our staff’s tenacity, we were not going to let that stand in our way.”

One of the biggest flaws in the city’s transportation infrastructure is getting to and from the Valley, where most residents work. State Route 347 is the one road in and the one road out. The four-lane highway is plagued by congestion, particularly at rush hour, and it is dangerous due to three high-speed intersections.

It’s important to have another way to get in and out of Maricopa, but the new parkway will also improve connectivity between Maricopa and Casa Grande.

With employers like electric car manufacturer Lucid and plumbing fixture giant Kohler opening manufacturing plants in Casa Grande, that city is becoming a hub for high-paying jobs. Sonoran Desert Parkway will make it easier for Maricopa residents to work there instead of in the Valley.

The initial leg of the project is a 1.6-mile stretch between John Wayne Parkway and Porter Road along the Farrell Road alignment. The four-lane parkway eventually will link SR 347 to Interstate 10, incorporating a stretch of the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, giving residents of the south side of the city a more efficient route to connect with I-10.

It can also expand to six lanes when needed.

Ross Renner, city transportation engineer, said he hopes a ribbon cutting will be possible in June.