Major closures over as Loop 101 upgrades near completion

A view of a stretch of Loop 101 that spans within Scottsdale city limits. (Submitted photo)

A view of a stretch of Loop 101 that spans within Scottsdale city limits. (Submitted photo)

After construction and closures for the better part of two years, a project aimed at improving a section of Arizona Loop 101 between Arizona Loop 202 and Shea Boulevard is nearing completion ahead of schedule.

According to a press release by the Arizona Department of Transportation, final major closures on the section of the freeway ended the weekend of Oct. 22 and 23, leaving only minor work for construction crews. ADOT Spokesperson Doug Nintzel said the project was originally estimated to finish by year’s end.

In a press release by the city, Walt Brodzinski said communication was key for the expedited work.
“We had very good communication all the way through the project between the state, affected jurisdictions and the contractor. That’s not always the case,” said Mr. Brodzinski in a press release.

Mr. Nintzel said he is grateful for drivers’ patience throughout the construction.

“We know it wasn’t easy at times, but the new lanes and other improvements, including a new layer of smooth rubberized asphalt across all travel lanes, are helping along this stretch of Loop 101,” Mr. Nintzel said during a Nov. 3 email response.

Mr. Nintzel said construction crews still need to install sensors to monitor traffic flow and update wheelchair ramps near the freeway on cross-street intersections. He said he expects this work to finish before Thanksgiving.

The $73 million project focusing on widening the freeway with an extra lane in each direction over the 11-mile stretch. Additionally, ADOT added merge lanes and realigned ramps at several major interchanges.

Some additional changes include drainage system upgrades, a new layer of rubberized asphalt across all lanes, new overhead message and freeway signs, new LED pole-mounted lighting on the median, closed-circuit digital traffic cameras and updated landscaping.

The right of way for this stretch of the freeway belongs to ADOT, but it is also near the border of both the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and Scottsdale.

According to a press release by the city of Scottsdale, this stretch of freeway breaks the norm of having only one direction of heavy traffic during rush hour. The freeway experiences heavy traffic in both directions during both morning and evening rush hours.

This unique predicament happens because of the roadways location with Scottsdale to the north and Tempe and Mesa to the south. Both areas feature significant employment and suburban location.

“There’s plenty of traffic outside of the rush hours, too,” Madhu Reddy, district engineer for ADOT’s central construction district, said in a release. “The freeway handles well over 150,000 vehicles on an average day, which is a key reason for our improvement project.”

Mr. Nintzel said the upgrades are gaining notoriety from Loop 101 commuters.

“I’ve talked to a number of drivers who say they’ve certainly noticed the difference that the new lanes have made,” Mr. Nintzel said in a Nov. 3 email response. “Rush hours will always be a big challenge, but the additional capacity helps us manage congestion.”

While there are no immediate plans for future plans on the 101 in or near the Scottsdale area, ADOT is in its studying phase for widening 13 miles of freeway between Interstate 17 and Shea Boulevard.

“The Maricopa Association of Governments, which oversees the Valley’s Regional Transportation Plan, has been working this fall to update the plan,” Mr. Nintzel said during a Nov. 3 email response. “That in turn will provide ADOT with more a more specific schedule for upcoming Loop 101 projects.”

However, according to ADOT’s website, the organization estimates construction beginning 2021.

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at jmartinez@newszap.com or at 623-445-2738

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