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SR 347

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.



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.


This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Two juveniles in a crosswalk were injured Monday when they were struck by a vehicle making a left turn.

According to Maricopa Police Department, the two juveniles had the right of way while crossing State Route 347 on Bowlin Road at around 6:24 p.m. The vehicle, driven by Izmenia Ledezma, was traveling east on Bowlin and turning north onto SR 347.

The juveniles suffered minor injuries, described as scrapes and bruises, but no broken bones. They were transported to a hospital as a precaution.

Ledezma stopped after the collision.

According to MPD, she was cited for failure to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.


Gov. Doug Ducey, running for re-election, addresses the Pinal Partnership. Photo by Michelle Chance

Gov. Doug Ducey highlighted a major project in Maricopa during a Friday morning networking event in Casa Grande.

The discussion happened at The Property Conference Center June 1. The event was hosted by Pinal Partnership.

Ducey said he wants to bring “commitment for resources” toward infrastructure projects in the region like Maricopa’s future State Route 347 overpass.

“State Route 347 (overpass) is going to be traveled every morning and every evening,” Ducey said. “It can use some investment.”

The $55 million project was partially funded from the city, the Arizona Department of Transportation and a $15 million TIGER grant. The grade-separation is projected to transport motorists over the Union Pacific Railroad by 2019.

Ducey’s half-hour long speech touted legislative actions at the state level. On the top of the list were tax cuts and 160,000 new private sector jobs in Arizona since 2015, according to the governor.

“The last time unemployment was this low, you were renting your movies at Blockbuster,” Ducey said.

Education spending was also considered a victory.

Ducey approved funding for a 20 percent salary increase for teachers last month. One percent of that figure was dispersed to districts last school year.

“We just finished one of the most significant Legislative sessions in our state’s history. These are teachers that have earned this pay increase and they deserve it because Arizona children are improving faster in math and reading than any other kids in the country,” Ducey said.

Arizona is working to combat its challenges, according to its highest elected official.

Ducey outlined the state’s plan to combat the opioid addiction crisis that has stricken most of the country.

Tackling Arizona’s portion of the nation’s border security is an issue Ducey said requires a careful balance.

While combating human trafficking, drug cartels and illegal immigration at the Mexico border, Ducey said keeping a positive relationship with Arizona’s No. 1 trade partner is also priority.

“I don’t want to see us build a wall around the economy,” he said.

'Dancing this dance of sensitivity'


A joint-litigation attorney for Pinal County Regional Transportation Authority wrote a letter to the Department of Revenue on Wednesday asking when and how the voter-approved half-cent sales tax will be implemented.

The sales tax is the funding mechanism for countywide road improvements, including the widening of State Route 347. RTA-related propositions 416 and 417 were approved in November.

PRTA General Manager Andy Smith told board members Wednesday a response from ADOR is expected by Feb. 5.

A sticking point in the progress of RTA planning is a lawsuit filed by the Goldwater Institute in December challenging the validity of the half-cent sales tax. Goldwater’s attorneys claim Prop 417 exceeds the county authority by taxing only items below $10,000, “creating a new tax classification instead of a variable rate and violates the Equal Protection Clause by taxing transactions below an arbitrary threshold amount but not above that amount.”

The Goldwater Institute is suing Pinal County, PRTA and the Department of Revenue on behalf of two county residents and the Arizona Restaurant Association.

Smith said the respective attorneys “have been having conversations” to create briefs and establish “stipulated facts.”

The PRTA board has hopes for an April 1 implementation of the tax.

Maricopa Mayor Christian Price, a member of the board, explained the challenges of SR 347, both geographically and politically. The main agencies involved in adding lanes to the highway are PRTA, Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), Gila River Indian Community and Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG).

“It’s an incredibly complex road,” Price said. “It’s on Gila River land, it crosses county lines, it’s a state-owned road, it’s the city of Maricopa pushing for it.”

To prevent bottle-neck at the county line, “we need help on the Maricopa County side,” Price said. Maricopa leaders have been in discussions with MAG and Gila River for years. MAG specifically has discussed solutions for problems at interchanges at Riggs Road and old Maricopa Highway (Wild Horse Pass) and the possibility of using MC Prop 400 funds for improvements.

In the ongoing discussions, the sour relationship between Gila River and ADOT is “throwing things out of whack,” Price said. Gila River sued the state in 2015 over the South Mountain Freeway construction.

“MAG is conducting the scoping study, and we’ll kind of leave it in their hands because of the sensitivities,” Price said.

“Obviously, to come up with a fix for you all in Maricopa, that’s going to take Maricopa County to get involved,” county Supervisor Pete Rios said. He warned that often Native American communities are planning “seven generations down the road. We do need to be sensitive to where some of these tribes are coming from.”

Price said he has been working with Gila River Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis for two years. “We’re really trying to dance this dance of sensitivity,” he said.

The RTA plan is to provide $28.8 million over the next five years to fund additional lanes for nine miles of SR 347.

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A two-vehicle collision has delayed southbound traffic on State Route 347 at Riggs Road.

The accident occurred Wednesday at 2:25 p.m. between a Nissan sedan and a Jaguar sports car, said Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves.

“At this point it is a serious injury collision at that intersection,” Graves said. “One vehicle may have T-boned the other.”

Emergency crews transported one male driver to the hospital. It is still unknown which vehicle he was driving at this time.

This is a developing story.

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The Highway Patrol will be looking for speeders Wednesday morning.

Department of Public Safety Sgt. Steven Sekrecki said a special detail is planned for 7 a.m. to noon on State Route 347 between Maricopa and Interstate 10. State Troopers will be aided by units from Maricopa Police Department, Sekrecki said, but the number of law enforcement officers has not been announced.

He said DPS warns people ahead of conducting these details because the goal is slowing down traffic rather than ticketing drivers.

North Bound 347 | In Maricopa | Photographer Jonathan Williams

The success of two transportation propositions on Tuesday’s ballot opens “possibilities” for Maricopa, according to Mayor Christian Price, but leadership will be mandatory.

Prop 416 passed by a 6,400-vote margin. Prop 417 passed by a 901-vote margin.

Even if the half-cent sales tax in Prop 417 brings the kind of revenue expected for the Pinal County road improvements connected to Prop 416, the widening of State Route 347 has complications. One of those is the sizable portion of SR 347 in Maricopa County.

“It would be silly to [improve] just part of the road,” Price said. “But we can say we are bringing $30 million to the table.”

The project of adding a lane in each direction is preceded by engineering studies, environmental studies, the National Environmental Policy Act process and design work. Before any of that, a successful project can only start through cooperation with Gila River Indian Community, Arizona Department of Transportation and Maricopa Association of Governments.

Price said they are all “very well aware” of the efforts of the City of Maricopa and Pinal County to take action on SR 347. Procuring funding, he said, was the ignition for starting a project.

There is no guarantee all parties who are impacted by SR 347 will be on board with any project moving forward.

“That’s the trick of voter referendum,” Price said. “You can’t make them do something.”

The mayor, however, sees it as an opportunity for officials in both counties to show cooperation, investment and leadership. That, Price said, could set them up for another federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. A TIGER grant was crucial for the overpass project in Maricopa.

A TIGER grant is the opportunity for millions more in funding for road widening, drainage or even an overpass, Price said. The federal grant also puts a tight timeline on projects it funds.

An outspoken opponent of prop 416 and 417 sees darker opportunities wrought by the passage of the measures, however.

“The narrow passing of Prop 417 represents a big win for special interest, bloated bureaucracy and prime opportunities to misuse taxpayer money,” said Alan Marchione, a former city councilmember in Maricopa. “A lawsuit is sure to follow, as the structure of the tax is not legal under existing state statute, whereas the county cannot set an arbitrary cap on the uniform implementation of sales tax. The county knew this, and proceeded anyhow. This exudes poor ethics and professionalism on the part of Pinal County supervisors.”

Marchione said while the county needs improved infrastructure, but these propositions were not the answer.

“The plan for Maricopa’s SR 347 is limited in its vision towards a long-term solution for improving traffic flow,” he said.

The 18 proposed projects included in the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) plan include three in the Maricopa area. The SR 347 project is widening nine miles of highway for $28.8 million. That is slated for Phase 1 of the RTA.

The second Maricopa-related project is the East-West Corridor. That is the widening of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway from Maricopa to Val Vista Road, and then widening that road and making it a straight shot to Interstate 10 north of Casa Grande.

A third project south of Maricopa is the creation of a West Pinal Freeway. That new roadway would carry westbound traffic off of Interstate 8 at Casa Grande, north on Montgomery Road and then west on a new road north of and parallel with Highway 84 before turning north into Maricopa County.

Other projects around the county include improvements on SR 287 and Selma Highway and new north-south roadways. Price said if officials cannot make progress in improving SR 347, the money will be turned over to other Maricopa road projects.

The anticipated revenue from Prop 417 is $640 million.

“We appreciate voters taking this step with us to improve it,” Steve Miller, chairman of the Yes on Propositions 416 and 417 campaign, said in a statement Thursday. “More jobs, better public safety, safer roads and an enhanced quality of life will be the result.

“It was a robust debate over the past couple of months. The many voices should be commended for weighing in. We hope all will now be respectful of the will of our more than 40,000 people that cast ballots.”

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More than a decade of rush-hour congestion on SR 347 caused many Maricopa residents to vote in favor of the county's RTA this week.

With all ballots in, Propositions 416 and 417 appear to have succeeded with Pinal County voters.

The unofficial results from Tuesday’s election show Prop 416, the county’s Regional Transportation Authority, receiving 57 percent approval. It was a tougher battle for Prop 417, which was the funding mechanism for Prop 416. The Yes votes currently lead 50.97 percent to 49.03 percent, a difference of 901 votes.

“What has impressed me is that the City of Maricopa precincts and those in San Tan Valley are pretty much carrying the county,” Supervisor Anthony Smith said.

For Prop 417, the Maricopa Fiesta precinct was most typical of the incorporated community. Those voters approved the half-cent sales tax by 59 percent.

The RTA includes road improvements and new road construction all over the county. Phase 1 includes the planned widening of State Route 347 from four lanes to six lanes up to the county line as well as an east-west corridor.

Smith called it the election “one of the most important votes that Pinal County will have for several years or maybe generations.”

Pinal County reported voter turnout of 24 percent for the mail-in election.

A freight train rolls across SR 347, delaying traffic in a familiar scene for Maricopans. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A formal groundbreaking for the construction of an overpass on State Route 347 across the Union Pacific Railroad tracks will take place Nov. 20. A ceremony is set at 10 a.m. at the northeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Honeycutt Road.

Coming in more than $5 million under project estimates, Ames Construction was chosen as the general contractor to build the overpass and realign local streets. Arizona Department of Transportation spokesman Tom Hermann said the work will begin within 60 days of Ames being selected, which occurred Sept. 15.

Based in Scottsdale, Ames has 750 days to complete the project. Its winning bid was $23.1 million. The City of Maricopa is contributing almost $14 million to the project, which has a total estimate of $55 million.

The first construction is expected to take place away from the current roadway.

“The early stages of the project will mean few, if any, traffic restrictions,” Hermann said. “Most of the work will be done in the future path of SR 347, east of the current alignment. We recognize the importance of both SR 347 and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, and we’ll work to keep any restrictions to a minimum.”

The project will create a six-lane overpass from Hathaway Avenue south to Desert Cedars Drive. It includes the realignment of Honeycutt Road, Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and Honeycutt Avenue.


A version of this story appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

Two people dies in the crash last week on SR 347 north of Riggs Road. Photo by Donna Atkins

The Department of Public Safety said a Maricopa woman was one of two people killed after a deadly three-car-collision on State Route 347 last week.

Gail Gutierrez, 65, of Maricopa, and Glendale resident Barry Kimura, 66, died at the hospital Oct. 18 from injuries sustained in the accident, DPS Spokesman Quentin Mehr said.

A 50-year-old Maricopa woman driving a Toyota pickup was transported to the hospital and treated for minor injuries.

The accident occurred on southbound SR 347, north of the Riggs Road intersection at 1:14 p.m. Oct. 18.

“At that time a Kia passenger vehicle driven by (Gutierrez), and a Toyota pickup, driven by a 50-year-old female from Maricopa, were in the inside lane on southbound SR 347, slowing from traffic ahead of them,” Mehr said. “A Toyota passenger vehicle, driven by (Kimura), failed to slow for the traffic and struck the Kia and Toyota pickup.”

DPS previously said Kimura was not wearing a seat belt and suffered major head trauma.

The accident shut down the roadway for hours while authorities investigated the scene.


Department of Public Safety pulled over 67 commercial vehicles for inspections during a Wednesday morning detail on State Route 347 and Highway 84.

Seventy violations were found, only five of which were for speeding. Four vehicles were taken out of service, as was one driver. An arrest was made on a warrant for a misdemeanor.

State Troopers were specifically targeting trucks after getting complaints from residents and dangerous driver behavior. However, they did make one stop of a non-commercial vehicle.

The detail ran from 7 a.m. to noon in the vicinities of Maricopa and Stanfield.

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

Police said a nude, 22-year-old man was taken to a hospital last week after he was seen running on State Route 347.

Gila River Police Department spokesperson Caroline Brown said officers made contact with the man July 14 at approximately 7:25 p.m. near milepost 179.

“He was turned over to medics on scene and transported to a local hospital for a psychological evaluation,” Brown said.

Gila River Police did not release the name of the man, but photos taken by drivers were posted to social media that night.

The photos show the nude man running barefoot on the asphalt.

Brown said the police report did not provide any information on whether the man gave statements to responding officers as to his motivation.

“No charges were filed against him due to his mental status,” Brown added.

The Department of Public Safety also received reports from concerned callers at 7:15 Friday night.

“As units were responding they were advised that a subject helped the man onto the right shoulder of the road,” said Quentin Mehr, DPS spokesman.

Mehr said DPS was in route to the scene when they were notified Gila River PD was taking over the case.

Arizona Department of Transportation

The Arizona Department of Transportation is reporting northbound lanes on SR 347 are now open after being closed for more than an hour due to a multi-car accident near Riggs Road.

Unconfirmed reports from bystanders indicate multiple vehicles were involved in the accident including a motorcycle, pick-up truck and semitrailer.

There are no confirmed injuries or fatalities at this time.

Updates will be made to this story as more information becomes available.


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.


State Troopers passed out 54 traffic citations Friday evening during a special detail on State Route 347 north of Maricopa.

According to Highway Patrol Sgt. Steven Sekrecki, 35 of the citations were for speeding. The detail, which targeted speeding and aggressive drivers, operated for four hours during what is typically rush hour for southbound traffic.

Sekrecki said four citations were issued for non-moving violations such as registration and insurance. Troopers also investigated a noninjury collision.

The Department of Public Safety was assisted on the detail by Maricopa Police Department.


In the latest of a series of special details the Arizona Department of Public Safety has been conducting on State Route 347 this year, State Troopers will be focusing on speeders and aggressive drivers this week.

Sgt. Steven Sekrecki said the detail will run Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. to caution rush-hour traffic. He said DPS warns people ahead of conducting these details because the goal is slowing down traffic rather than ticketing drivers.

DPS will have four troopers and a sergeant on patrol in the area. Other agencies may also assist.

A special detail from the Department of Public Safety made 112 traffic stops on State Route 347 Wednesday morning.

Of those, 90 resulted in speeding citations, according to Sgt. Steven Sekrecki. Two people were cited for not having children in car seats, and four others were cited for “non-hazardous” violations such as insurance or registration issues.

The detail involved four state troopers, two officers from Gila River Police Department and one Maricopa police officer.

Sekrecki said DPS warns people ahead of conducting these details because the goal is slowing down traffic, rather than ticketing drivers.

“It allows those people who might normally speed let themselves know to slow down,” Sekrecki said. “And we let people know so there’s not a big surprise when they see us out there en masse.”

Wednesday’s detail was in operation from 7 a.m. to noon.

Click photo for larger image

Do you want lanes added to State Route 347?

An open house on Pinal County’s Regional Transportation Authority is set for Maricopa City Hall on May 2. The open house will show participants what roads are slated to be built with the RTA funding, if approved by Pinal County voters this fall.

The event is an addition to other open houses planned by Central Arizona Governments (CAG) and Pinal County to get public feedback. County officials have been working for months to get the RTA on a ballot. It is now set for a November election.

The Pinal RTA would seek a half-cent sales tax to improve transportation options for drivers in Pinal County.

The proposed plan focuses on roadway development, public transportation improvements, and local transportation project funding for the towns of Kearny, Mammoth and Superior, and the city of Eloy.  Some of the proposed roadway improvements include widening State Route 347 north of the city of Maricopa to the Pinal-Maricopa County boundary, constructing the North-South Corridor that would ultimately connect U.S. 60 with Interstate 10, and extending State Route 24 into Pinal County.

Projections over 20 years predict the RTA could bring in $650 million in revenue targeted directly for Pinal County roads.

The open house in Maricopa is from 4 to 6 p.m. in the lobby at City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza.
Those unable to attend can review information on the proposed regional plan and tax at CAG’s website at: http://www.cagaz.org/rta.html.  To participate in the on-line survey regarding the proposed regional plan and tax, you may visit Pinal County’s website.
For additional information on the proposed plan you can contact:
Andy Smith at andrew.smith@pinalcountyaz.gov, (520) 509-3555,
Kathy Borquez at kathy.borquez@pinalcountyaz.gov, (520) 509-3555 or
Andrea Robles, Interim Executive Director, Central Arizona Governments at arobles@cagaz.org, (480) 474-9300.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

State Route 347 cannot be shut down during construction, and no property access can be cut off.

Arizona Department of Transportation hosted an informational meeting Wednesday to update residents on the upcoming overpass project. ADOT and consulting firm EPS answered concerns about the project itself and the impact of construction.

The project builds an overpass over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks at State Route 347. Construction is expected to begin in late fall.

Project engineer Elijah Williams, a familiar face at these meetings for years, is president of EPS, which was hired by ADOT to design the overpass. He presented the update to a packed board room at the Maricopa Unified School District.

Williams said EPS will recommend to the construction contractor the timeline for putting the project together. That involves not only the overpass but also new street alignments north and south of the railroad tracks. See ADOT 3D video models

“These bridges, they’re the things that take the longest to build. So they’re going to want to start on those early and not want to get into disrupting traffic for as long as they can avoid it,” Williams said.

Honeycutt Avenue, next to Maricopa High School, will be realigned, connecting with State Route 347 a little farther southeast than its current intersection. More extensively, Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway will be realigned to take traffic north to Honeycutt Road by utilizing a realigned Plainview Street next to MUSD’s district office and transportation department.

A traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of Honeycutt Road and Plainview Street. The traffic signal currently at SR 347 and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway will be moved to SR 347 and Honeycutt Road.

Part of the current SR 347, where it passes long-time business like Headquarters and NAPA, will remain in place, passing under the new overpass, and become the access to eastbound Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

On SR 347 itself, there will be three lanes both directions between Edison Road and the current alignment at Desert Cedars/Alterra Parkway south of the First Baptist Church.

Though endangered in the early designs of the overpass, the church, Amtrak station and NAPA Auto Parts will not have to move.

The project is estimated to cost $55 million. Maricopa’s contribution to that is just short of $14 million. The city approved an intergovernmental agreement with ADOT on Tuesday for the construction of the overpass.

Bob Marsh, a resident of Desert Cedars, said when currently-empty, commercial property south of the tracks is finally developed, new access points may need to be cut into SR 347. Those vacant parcels will be on both sides of the alignment.

Law enforcement officers were watching for speedy drivers on SR 347 Tuesday.

A multi-agency effort led by Pinal County Sheriff’s Office handed out speeding tickets to scores of drivers on State Route 347 Tuesday.

“The department is focusing on this area at the request of DPS and Gila River Police Department. There have been numerous fatal collisions on that roadway this year,” PCSO spokesperson Navideh Forghani said in a statement.

According to PCSO, 129 people were stopped for speeding violations and one was stopped for running a red light. There were also three misdemeanor arrests.

The speed detail is the fourth organized by PCSO in the county. It came on the heels of DPS-led traffic detail last week that cited 88 drivers for speeding.

Agencies involved in Tuesday’s effort were PCSO, DPS, Maricopa Police Department and Casa Grande Police Department.

Southbound traffic on SR 347 backed up this morning after a fatal accident at Casa Blanca Road. Photo by Mason Callejas

A fatality on State Route 347 continues to keep the southbound lanes closed as Gila River Police Department and the Arizona Department of Public Safety investigate.

According to GRPD Detective Manuel Duarte, one car back-ended another car stopped at the light at the intersection with Casa Blanca Road at around 4:20 a.m.

“When the at-fault driver exited his vehicle, he was struck by a third vehicle,” Duarte said.

The man, who has not been publicly identified, was taken to Chandler Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced deceased.

Southbound traffic has been diverted onto Riggs Road east to Interstate 10. Maricopa-bound traffic has been requested to drive to Casa Grande to take Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway into town.

Though northbound lanes of SR 347 have remained open, traffic was very slow during rush hour.

DPS spokesman Trooper Kameron Lee said his department turned the investigation over to GRPD because a tribal member was involved in the accident. DPS is acting as an assisting agency.

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.



A seven-mile stretch of State Route 347 south of Interstate 10 will be narrowed to one lane in each direction on Saturday, Oct. 8, for pavement work.

The Arizona Department of Transportation recommends drivers allow extra travel time and use caution when approaching and traveling through the work zone.

SR 347 will be narrowed to one lane in each direction in an area between Riggs and Casa Blanca roads from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Similar work and restrictions also are scheduled in the same area on Saturday, Oct. 15.

Highway conditions are available via ADOT’s Travel Information site at az511.gov or by calling 511.

Councilmember Nancy Smith

By Nancy Smith

Gridlock on SR 347! Yes, that’s what I said. We who live in Maricopa need to be aware of the fact that a study in late 2015, the Maricopa Area Transportation Plan-Phase I, indicated that SR 347 was going to experience ‘significant congestion’ by 2017, deteriorating to ‘Roadway Facility Failure’ by 2028 if nothing is done to mitigate the traffic problem. Furthermore, the study found that with a third lane added in each direction between north Maricopa City Limits and I-10, SR 347 could potentially avoid ‘significant congestion’ until 2023.

Shortly after hearing that during a city council meeting I put a project on the council project list called ‘Get Ahead of SR347 GRIDLOCK.” Later, I met a man who serves on the Wild Horse Pass Development Authority for the Gila River Indian Community and asked if he, I and our city manager could meet to discuss this study. We met, and all agreed this is a problem that will need a solution as soon as possible. This is a serious concern for me and I’m sure for most residents who use SR 347 to get to work every weekday.

Recently, a city council candidate published his concerns regarding voter support of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). He states, “I have spoken with engineers, ADOT representatives, and former City employees about the project.” While I respect his concerns and questions, I have a concern that he spoke to groups to gain information without speaking with the two groups that have the most recent information and have been working the scope, timeline, partners, and studies that have already begun.

With the exception of ADOT, none of his other sources has any insight in the work already completed for this project. He should have spoken with the originators of the RTA, Pinal County, and he most definitely should have spoken with the City of Maricopa Planning Division to gain knowledge on how they’ve been working this project. These two, City of Maricopa and Pinal County, have the most recent information available to help make an informed decision. Our city transportation planner and Planning Division, along with the consultant who identified the looming traffic problems on SR 347, take this seriously and have been actively working to organize and take action with national standards in planning processes and establishing the right partnerships.

My opponent says, “If elected, one of my priorities will be working with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), Pinal County, Gila River Indian Community (GRIC), Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and others to improve (widen) SR 347…” and he says “The time to begin planning for expansion and improvements is now.” Again, the partnerships have been established and the planning for expansion and improvements has already begun!

I feel it is very important to keep the voters informed of the most recent information on this project. Had my opponent spoken with any of these organizations and/or the City of Maricopa Planning Division he would have found out that these discussions and partnerships are already taking place. He would have also found out that his concerns are being addressed.

As an example, it is true that the ADOT’s Roadway Design Guidelines only allow for certain conditions on projects. The evaluation of these conditions happens during the design phase of the project, which would be paid for with the revenue generated from the RTA. This is a very expensive phase of the project and one that the City of Maricopa would not want to fund out of our Capital Improvement funds. The design phase would determine if there are any roadblocks. However, based on my research, there are many creative engineering methods for resolving conditions to meet the guidelines that will allow for turn lanes and a safe buffer without compromising traffic flow and safety.

Another example of what the design phase would strive to resolve relates to his concern regarding “increased signalization” and slowing down traffic flow. One of the main goals of increasing SR 347 from four lanes to six lanes is to decrease GRIDLOCK, not increase GRIDLOCK. The design phase would strive to reach that goal and would likely include grade separated intersections at Casa Blanca Road, Riggs Road and a free flow on-ramp to I-10.

A last example is the concern over the Gila River Indian Community Easement Agreement. I agree, there is concern over changing the Easement Agreement and it will take time, collaboration, communication and cooperation, all of which are underway. As mentioned above, the city manager and I have started these discussions and our mayor has continued the discussions, in addition to staff coordinating the beginning stage with Gila River Indian Community.

My opponent closes his article with the option to “build a grade-separated crossing – a bridge to keep north/southbound traffic moving.” He goes on to say, “The same may need to be done at the I-10 interchange.” This portion of the SR 347 resides within Maricopa County. Obviously, many Pinal County taxpayers may have severe heart burn using revenue raised in Pinal County on a Maricopa County portion of the project. However, with MAG and Maricopa County as partners, that could be considered part of the solution, but not at the expense of increasing SR 347 lanes from four to six.

My philosophy as your city council member is to work with facts. The facts are that the Maricopa Area Transportation Plan-Phase I of December 2015 indicates that SR 347 is going to experience ‘significant congestion’ by 2017. The City of Maricopa Planning Division and Pinal County have already begun establishing the partners and relationships to make wise decisions on the SR347 and RTA. The RTA provides the revenue to begin the design phase in the quickest amount of time. Alternative routes would take significantly more time and revenue. Consider the time that has been needed for our own SR 347 overpass at the railroad track, it’s been over 10 years. Alternative routes would take significantly more time than adding lanes to SR 347 because SR 347 already exists and needs a modification to the GRIC Easement Agreement; whereas a completely new route requires purchasing new right-of-ways, new GRIC agreements, new agreements with other land owners, etc.

My opponent’s vote on the RTA is as follows in his own words, “Before we ask the voters to approve a 20-year sales tax increase, let’s make sure we can deliver improved transportation…”.

That’s going to be too late! The RTA revenue language can be modified to include a ‘Firewall’ for Maricopa funds, as was included in Maricopa County’s Prop 400. A ‘Firewall’ protects designated funds for a community in the event that the named project proves non-viable for any reason, which basically means the funds would still be used for a different transportation project that benefits Maricopa. With the design phase included as part of the RTA and with the city not having a surplus of money needed to pay for the very expensive design phase, I believe when the opportunity to vote on this proposition in early 2017 comes to the voters, we should vote ‘yes’ to minimize the impact of GRIDLOCK as quickly as possible.

Nancy Smith is a member of the Maricopa City Council and a candidate for re-election.

Dan Frank

By Dan Frank

As a civil engineer, I work on design, construction and maintenance of the physical and built environment, seeking solutions to solve everyday problems. One priority is our transportation corridors, particularly State Route 347.

If elected, one of my priorities will be working with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), Pinal County, Gila River Indian Community (GRIC), Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and others to improve (widen) SR347 for better access to I-10. SR 347, Maricopa’s primary ingress and egress route, will inevitably reach gridlock. The time to begin planning for expansion and improvements is now.

There will assuredly be hurdles, particularly how to pay for a project of this scope? One option is the proposed Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), which would be a voter-approved half-cent sales tax over 20 years to help fund highway projects throughout Pinal County. There are significant challenges with the RTA, including whether it is the best solution or even feasible at this point.

I have spoken with engineers, ADOT representatives, and former City employees about the project. All express serious concerns about viability, with emphasis in three key areas: Geometry, potential increased signalization, and the Gila River Indian Community ROW Agreement.

Geometry – The most logical improvement seems to be adding one additional lane toward the center median to the northbound and southbound lanes. However, ADOT’s Roadway Design Guidelines allow for a median width of 16 feet when a concrete barrier is used. Each additional lane is about 12 feet, and when combined with the median, would require 40 feet. The average existing space is 45 feet, so there is ample room to expand, until you consider left-turn intersections. There is not enough room to provide turn lanes and a safe buffer without compromising traffic flow and safety.

Increased Signalization at Side Roads – There are a total of five access points between Maricopa and Riggs Road.  SR 347’s narrow median and higher speed design could result in additional signals at these intersections. There are three already, and adding more only further reduces traffic flow/efficiency.

GRIC Right-of-Way Agreement – SR 347 crosses the Gila River Indian Community as an easement, not as right-of-way in its traditional sense.  The current agreement allows for two lanes in each direction. Any modification to this agreement would require GRIC approval. This is a vital component of ADOT’s ability to make any improvements on roads that cross GRIC land and any decision will require time, collaboration, communication and cooperation.

Alternatives and Solutions – Being a civil engineer, I’m all about finding alternatives and solutions. The SR 347 improvements are needed, but the main challenge is creating adequate capacity at intersections, particularly Riggs Road. This intersection has a significant amount of vehicular accidents, so one option is to build a grade-separated crossing – a bridge to keep north/southbound traffic moving. The same may need to be done at the I-10 interchange. Grade separations add cost, but they improve traffic flow and mitigate accidents.

My campaign emphasizes “doing things right, but also doing the right things.” I support improving SR 347, but not without continued, focused discussions with GRIC, ADOT, Pinal County and MAG to ensure the project is feasible and fundable. Before we ask the voters to approve a 20-year sales tax increase, let’s make sure we can delivery improved transportation, not another “dead end.”

Dan Frank is a candidate for Maricopa City Council.

Maricopa drivers can expect some major detours in the coming weeks as the Arizona Department of Transportation works on State Route 347 at two intersections.

Expect delays.

See map below

Aug. 5-8, ADOT will improve the roadway surface on SR 347 at the Smith-Enke Road intersection (SR 238). That work begins at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Northbound and southbound traffic will have lane restrictions. Eastbound traffic on SR 238 will be detoured south on Ralston Road and then east on Farrell to connect to SR 347. Westbound vehicles on Smith-Enke will be detoured south on Porter Road and then west on Honeycutt Road to SR 347.

The work is expected to be completed by 3 a.m. Aug. 8.

Beginning Aug. 12 at 7 p.m., ADOT will conduct similar work on SR 347 at the intersection of Edison Road.

Northbound and southbound vehicles will again experience lane restrictions. Eastbound traffic on Edison will be directed south on Wilson Avenue and then east on Hathaway Avenue. Westbound traffic on Edison will instead be sent south on Butterfield Parkway, exiting at Duncan Drive, and then west on Honeycutt Road.

The work is expected to be completed by 3 a.m. Aug. 15.

For more information, call 855-721-8530 or email projects@azdot.gov.