City Manager Rick Horst on Monday laid out the city’s proposals to improve traffic flow on State Route 347 during a presentation to the Planning & Zoning Commission.
Following an update on the Western Pinal County/City of Maricopa Area Transportation Plan by Kevin Kugler of consulting firm Michael Baker International, LLC, Horst listed the city’s proposals for improvements that can be completed in the short term, with funds already appropriated by the Arizona Legislature.
“On the 347, even (the Legislature’s) minor proposal to solve part of the problem is a $290 million fix,” Horst said. “If they would just give us half that amount of money we could solve it. I do want to tell you what we are doing. We’ve asked a couple of things. As you come into town and you get to the (Cemex) cement factory, the trucks don’t run after about 3 p.m., yet traffic will stop (at red traffic lights) waiting for those ‘ghost trucks’ to turn. Why can’t it be synchronized so that it doesn’t even turn on the light? Put in that strip so it wont even trip unless a car approaches.
“Number two, we’re talking about getting rid of both of those (traffic lights) – I say we because this is our proposal to the state – at both the concrete plant and Casa Blanca (Road). When you make a right turn, you would accelerate, merge in and go a little bit further, swing back over and then decelerate and then do a U-turn, so the traffic never stops. We have asked them to give us about $18 million – again, it’s not our jurisdiction, it’s not our road – to do those two things.”
This traffic design is known as a Michigan Left Turn, or P-turn. It replaces a left turn at an intersection between a secondary roadway and an at-grade major divided roadway with the combination of a right turn followed by a U-turn.
Under the proposal, southbound traffic could turn left from 347 onto Casa Blanca Road or into the Cemex plant, but westbound traffic turning south from Casa Blanca or the plant onto 347 initially would turn north, then merge over to the left land and make the U-turn in an expanded area called a “loon” concept (see attached graphic).
Horst said it is imperative that work on these projects begin now for budgetary reasons.
“If we fix Riggs Road, we will solve 40% of our problem or more,” Horst said.
“The funding is there for Riggs Road. They (the state) have a three-year planning process and I realize these things take time, but at the same time, three years from now it’s going to cost $20 million more that it would cost now.”
The state allocated $46.4 million for construction of the overpass at Riggs Road in the 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions, according to Quinn Konold, spokesman for Horst’s office.
“Keep in mind that an additional $19 million was allocated in 2022 to begin the design work of SR347,” Konold said. “There is currently a bill being debated at the Legislature (HB2063) that would lower the amount for this design cost to $6 million, with the remaining $13 million being allocated back to the city of Maricopa to make improvements on either SR 238 or SR 347 within the Maricopa city limits.”
The final proposal Horst outlined was moving forward with installation of a “diverging diamond” interchange at SR 347 and I-10, a project already funded by the Maricopa Association of Governments.
The design of a diverging-diamond interchange allows vehicles entering and exiting freeways to continue moving rather than stopping at traffic signals.
Horst added actions by Gov. Katie Hobbs could further delay the start of construction.
“Our governor is proposing that all existing contracts and projects be recalled, and they are going to reprioritize all those,” Horst said. “So again, if you’re interested, get engaged. The mayor is doing a great job. She is at the capitol today (Monday) and we’re coming up with solutions, and frankly, we’re trying to solve problems. We have a lot of support from our representative (Teresa) Martinez and (Senator) TJ Shope and some others, but we need all of you to make that happen.”
It *may* fix 40% of the problem, but the 347 will still back-up and close when there is an accident. It will be 100% of the problem. The city HAS to focus on another route in and out, anything else is just a band-aid