As the Fourth of July weekend approaches, state and local agencies are focusing efforts on promoting safety along the busy highways, including Interstate 17 between north Phoenix and Camp Verde, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation press release.
ADOT and its contractors will not schedule construction closures along state highways between Thursday afternoon and late Sunday night. Drivers are urged to use caution over the weekend, especially in areas that have been narrowed due to existing work zones.
As they have done over recent major holiday weekends, ADOT, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety will team with local first responders on the state’s “Stay Alert, Stay Alive” safe-driving campaign.
While pointing out that drivers hold the key to safety, state officials stress the importance of being patient, obeying speed limits, buckling up and avoiding distractions. While the holiday weekend safety campaign is underway, DPS will place an emphasis on speed enforcement, especially during the busy Thursday and Sunday afternoon travel periods.
ADOT’s I-17 overhead message boards will be used to post safety and highway-condition messages. Highway crews also are staging equipment such as front loaders and utility trucks at strategic locations along the highway, including the Outlets at Anthem mall and the Sunset Point Rest Area. The equipment will allow crews to respond as soon as possible if crashes or disabled vehicles need to be cleared.
Existing work zone locations along state highways include State Route 260 about 20 miles east of Payson, where traffic is shifted to single lanes in each direction for a bridge-improvement project. Interstate 40 west of the State Route 89 junction near Ash Fork also is narrowed to one lane in each direction for bridge work.
Drivers are urged to check their vehicles, including tire pressure, and get a good night’s rest before heading out on a trip. Motorists also are urged to:
- Buckle up
- Obey speed limits
- Avoid the busiest travel times if possible
- Never drive while impaired. Arrange for a designated driver in advance
- Be prepared for unexpected closures during warmer weather and possible thunderstorms
- Pack extra drinking water and snack foods in case traffic is stopped due to a crash or disabled vehicle up ahead
State agencies also will work with the Black Canyon City and Daisy Mountain fire departments as part of the I-17 safety corridor campaign. The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is working with local law enforcement agencies on a holiday DUI enforcement campaign.
Last year in Arizona, nine people were killed in a total of seven fatal crashes along highways and local streets over the Independence Day weekend. The sobering figures were higher during the holiday weekend in 2013, when 16 people died in 15 fatal crashes across the state.
You can check on statewide highway conditions on ADOT’s Travel Advisory site at az511.gov or by calling 5-1-1 (within Arizona). Traffic information also is available on ADOT’s Twitter feed (@ArizonaDOT).
The Queen Creek Independent is delivered weekly