Plans are in the works to add an eastbound and a westbound lane to Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway between Porter Road and White and Parker Road. Photo by Ethan McSweeney

By Ethan McSweeney

A plan to add lanes to Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway between Porter and White and Parker roads is rolling forward. The Maricopa City Council approved an agreement with the Arizona Department of Transportation at its Tuesday meeting.

The project will add two lanes — one in each direction — to Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway for a roughly one-mile stretch to increase traffic capacity, according to the agreement. Separate turn lanes will also be added to the White and Parker Road intersection.

The City Council’s approval means that the Department of Transportation will begin design on the project.

Bill Fay, director of public works for the city, said the goal is to continue widening Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway through Maricopa, with Casa Grande working on its end to widen the road, too.

“One mile at a time, one-half mile at a time, if we have to,” Fay said about the widening process.

“At some point we will have a road that goes all the way from the overpass at 347 to downtown Casa Grande, and it will be a broad freeway and we’ll have businesses all along it,” Fay said.

Most of the funding for the roughly $3.4 million project will come from federal aid. The city of Maricopa will pay about $315,000 of the total for design and construction. The money from the city will come out of the Half-Cent County Road Tax Fund.

This project to widen Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway from Porter Road to White and Parker Road has a “sordid history” with the length of time it has taken and the costs associated with it, Fay said.

He said the city applied for and received a $500,000 federal grant for funding for the road widening. Taking that federal grant, however, “federalized” the project, bringing federal requirements with it, Fay said. This includes ADOT administration.

Federal projects, Fay said, take much longer to complete, too. He cited the lengthy time it has taken to complete the Hartman Road project as an example of this. He said it would take much less time and cost less if the city had done the project on its own.

The costs to the city for the MCG widening project also increased by $150,000, Fay said, so he moved to abandon the grant.

“It’s a bit of a controversial step within the community, but it made, I felt, straightforward financial sense,” Fay said.

After discussing the situation with the Maricopa Association of Governments, Fay said the regional planning and policy agency told him to not return the grant, but apply for more federal money. This secured the city $2.5 million more for the project.

“The effect of this is that the city is getting $3 million it would not get otherwise,” Fay said.

ADOT will advertise for bids on the design and construction of the project. If the bid for the project comes in over budget, the city would be on the hook for the difference, Fay said.