Developers, city agree – EW corridor key to future transportation

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East-West Corridor
The East-West Corridor would be built on the south side of Farrell Road and include a four-lane bridge over the Santa Rosa Wash. Construction will start in early 2022. [City of Maricopa]

With all the development planned for south Maricopa and areas that currently are still part of Pinal County, transportation for those areas will need to be addressed. The city is taking steps in that direction and at least one expert in the development field says those moves are going to pay off.

The city has taken the final steps in preparation for the construction of the initial 1.6-mile portion of the East-West Corridor between John Wayne Parkway and Porter Road along the Farrell Road alignment. The parkway eventually will run from SR347 to Interstate 10 incorporating stretches of the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, giving residents of the south side of the city a more efficient route to connect with I-10.

City Manager Rick Horst said construction is scheduled to begin Jan. 10 and is tentatively set for completion March 6, 2023. The project includes building a bridge across the Santa Cruz Wash as part of the flood control measures in that area.

Greg Davis, the president of Chandler’s Iplan Consulting, is working with developer W Holdings on the massive Santa Cruz Ranch project south of town near Stanfield. The 1,886-acre project will eventually be the site of more than 6,000 homes and 15,000 people, and Davis said those people will have to have a way to get to the Valley other than through Maricopa on John Wayne Parkway.

He said he thinks this is a better and more immediate option than another, better-known alternative.

“I don’t think many developers are counting on I-11, it’s just too far down the road,” Davis said. “They are counting more on existing infrastructure. Our clients are also excited by the city’s commitment to extend its transportation to the south once that land is annexed. The East-West highway is also big because we know that it is funded, or at least large sections of it. We have confidence that’s going to happen sooner rather than later – more confidence than in improvements to the 347 or the I-11 coming, at least in the short term.”

Davis added that the East West Corridor, now being called the Sonoran Desert Parkway, will give people living on the south end of Maricopa a viable option to commuting to the Valley via 347. “They can go whatever it is, 4-5 miles out to I-10 and then it’s an easy drive into the Valley, especially to the southeast Valley. The 347 is more of a direct shot for most of Maricopa but you already have traffic congestion on that road,” he said.

Maricopa Public Services Director Mike Riggs confirmed Davis’ timing during a presentation at last Tuesday’s city council meeting. He said the project is now 100% design completed and the city is in discussions with asphalt companies to get pricing bids for the project, which he said is slated for construction start in February or March.

“The road will feature a four-lane bridge over Porter Road and the (Santa Rosa) wash,” Riggs said. “From Porter Road up to highway 347 will be a 4-lane parkway which is a wide 200-foot-wide roadway. In addition, there could be third lane in both directions, so it could be six lanes as soon as traffic deems it necessary.

This is an A-1 project for us,” he continued. “We have met with Sunland Asphalt and run some hard numbers on this and if we are able to go full, hard closure on Farrell Road and Porter Road during the length of this project we’ll reduce the timeline by about five months and knock $4.1 million off the price.”

The city recently acquired the final eight parcels, totaling about 69 acres, to gain the full right of way for the 1.6-mile project. The uses for the newly acquired parcels include rights of way, and construction and drainage easements.

The project is estimated to cost $24-26 million, some of which will be offset by developer impact fees.

The parkway is designed with several signalized intersections and Horst said the high-speed corridor has been deemed essential by the city to keep up with traffic issues associated with the city’s rapid growth.

Davis, whose company consults on many large housing developments, said the project is part of a vision from the city that is making developers feel better about coming to Maricopa.

“The city has made my clients more comfortable that the commitment is there to improve transportation, of which the East West Highway and 347 are a big part,” he said. “It all comes down to providing transportation options. If you don’t have options, that will slow the growth there dramatically.”