Work begins on center stretch of S. Mountain Freeway corridor

A view of ongoing construction of a freeway project meant to better connect residents across the Valley of the Sun. (Submitted photo)

Crews started work this week on a 3-mile stretch at the center of the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway.

Construction in the center segment, between 51st Avenue and 32nd Lane, includes a section passing through the southwestern edge of the South Mountain Park.

Crews have started with right-of-way fencing and surveying to identify and tag trees and cacti in the path of construction that are good candidates for salvage, Arizona Department of Transportation officials stated in a release. Over the next few months, hundreds of plants that eventually will be replanted along the freeway will be removed and placed in a temporary nursery.

Beginning this week, crews with heavy equipment will start assessing the condition of soil and rock as well as the depth of groundwater along the freeway alignment, the release stated. The information will allow engineers to plan for pavement, bridges, walls and drainage structures.

The work, which will require building temporary access roads, is scheduled to continue for several months, officials stated.

Starting as early as May, controlled rock blasting will begin along two ridges on the southwestern edge of the South Mountain Park as crews create a path for the freeway, which will provide a direct link between the East and West valleys.

Periodic traffic restrictions are anticipated on 51st Avenue, Dusty Lane and Ivanhoe Street during center segment construction.

The largest single highway project in Arizona history, the South Mountain Freeway has been divided into four construction segments:

  • I-10 Papago: between the I-10 Papago Freeway interchange at 59th Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road.
  • Salt River: from Lower Buckeye Road to 51st Avenue near Estrella Drive.
  • Center: from 51st Avenue to 32nd Lane.
  • Pecos: between 32nd Lane to the I-10/Loop 202 Santan Freeway interchange along Pecos Road.

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