News from ADOT: Work on SR 79 in Florence/Efficiencies in Operating/US 60 Projects

State Route 79, in the Town of Florence (mileposts 134-138) will have restrictions in both directions beginning Monday (Jan. 18) through Friday (Jan. 22) from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. to allow crews to make improvements to the roadway.

The work will occur as follows:

  • On Monday (Jan. 18) and Tuesday (Jan. 19) SR 79 will be reduced to one lane in both directions. The speed limit will be reduced to 35 mph.
  • On Wednesday (Jan. 20) through Friday (Jan. 22) SR 79 will have alternating lane closures in both directions, one mile at a time. The speed limit will be reduced to 25 mph.

Message boards and crews will guide drivers through the work zone. Drivers should expect minimal delays.

Drivers are reminded to share the road, be cautious, and slow down while traveling through the work zone.

ADOT works to inform the public about planned roadway restrictions, but there is a possibility that unscheduled closures or restrictions may occur. Weather can also affect a project schedule.

ADOT division focuses on efficiencies in operating, sustaining a reliable transportation system

As traffic demands continue to grow across the state, the Arizona Department of Transportation is becoming more efficient and innovative in operating and sustaining a transportation system that touches the lives of nearly every Arizonan.

In streamlining its overall structure, ADOT is shifting several core functions into the Transportation Systems Management and Operations Division (TSMO). The move allows ADOT to better manage current infrastructure while looking ahead to the use of emerging technologies that can enhance the mobility of people and products.

The TSMO Division includes a variety of traffic safety and operational programs, including roadway-safety improvements, traffic-signal systems, pavement conditions and crash response. It also includes technology used to manage congestion, such as ADOT's growing network of highway traffic-flow sensors, overhead message boards and closed-circuit cameras operated from the agency's Traffic Operations Center in Phoenix.

"Governor Ducey has challenged state agencies to adopt practices for daily improvement and this is one of our answers," ADOT Director John Halikowski said. "By proactively maximizing the capacity of our entire system, our efforts stretch the investment taxpayers are making in transportation. By focusing on the whole system, rather than individual corridors, movement and safety are optimized along today's and tomorrow's highways, especially with emerging technologies that will move us into the future."

Today's safety improvements can be relatively simple. An example is adding large freeway-number decals along a travel lane to help guide drivers when they're approaching another freeway. Synchronized traffic signals are another example. Tomorrow's technological innovations likely include electronic variable speed limit signs that adjust to traffic conditions.

TSMO Division employees also are involved in coordinating agency resources when ADOT prepares and responds to winter storms like the recent ones that impacted much of the state. ADOT partners with other safety agencies to reopen any closed highways and get traffic moving again as quickly as possible.

The focus on efficiency includes ADOT's recent move to consolidate the number of its engineering districts around the state from 10 to seven. The agency also has reduced its number of full-time employees from more than 4,500 in 2008 to fewer than 3,900 today. In an age of making the most of limited transportation funding, ADOT has joined the short list of state transportation departments that have made transportation system management and operations part of their organizations.

"We've understood for some time that you can't just build your way out of congestion," said ADOT Assistant Director Brent Cain, who leads the TSMO Division. "We're evaluating all of our functions, as well as safety and operational processes, to determine new approaches and efficiencies to maximize the capacity of our existing highways and other infrastructure. We'll be better prepared for the future, while working even more closely with the Department of Public Safety, local police and fire departments, emergency-response agencies as well as counties, cities and towns. The goal is to bolster the reliability of the current system while we add efficient future improvements."

One of ADOT's other divisions also is involved in the agency's transition. It has taken on a new name. The former Intermodal Transportation Division, which designs, constructs and maintains the state's highway system, is now the Infrastructure Delivery and Operations Division (IDO).

"Providing system reliability, while developing strategic improvements to our infrastructure is critical to Arizona's economy," Assistant Director for Infrastructure Delivery and Operations Steve Boschen said. "This name more accurately describes what our employees do on behalf of our customers. We focus on those who depend on our work to get them where they need to go. It really is about infrastructure delivery and operations."

ADOT projects invest in US 60 corridor east of the Phoenix area

Several projects that are underway or planned during 2016 will significantly upgrade US 60 from Superior to Globe.

In all, the Arizona Department of Transportation has committed nearly $50 million to projects in the corridor, including the addition of a passing lane and wider shoulders as the highway climbs east from Superior, five miles of new divided highway, rockfall mitigation, bridge work and drainage improvements.

As progress continues, including an upcoming project to replace lighting in the Queen Creek Tunnel, motorists traveling between Superior and Globe should plan ahead and be prepared for intermittent closures.

Two improvement projects are currently underway, and a third will start later this month:

A project started in August 2015 is adding a two-mile westbound passing lane between mileposts 231 and 233, widening the shoulder in Devil's Canyon (mileposts 233-234), improving a bridge at Waterfall Canyon (milepost 229) and making drainage improvements west of Miami (milepost 242). Blasting operations for this project have required occasional closures, usually lasting up to 90 minutes, and these are expected to be needed through the end of April with crews more than halfway through excavating 108,000 cubic yards of earth.

ADOT is widening five miles of US 60 just west of and through Superior, a project that when completed in 2017 will convert the last two-lane stretch between Phoenix and Superior to four-lane divided highway. This work will require some traffic restrictions later this year.

This month, ADOT will add LED lighting to improve visibility in the quarter-mile-long Queen Creek Tunnel, which was built in 1952, as well as new conduit and wiring.

In 2015, ADOT completed a rockfall-mitigation project along mileposts 228-229, where crews removed loose boulders along a rocky and steep section of highway adjacent to the Queen Creek Tunnel.

ADOT works to inform the public about planned highway restrictions, but there is a possibility that unscheduled closures or restrictions may occur. Weather can also affect a project schedule. To stay up to date with the latest highway conditions around the state, visit the ADOT Traveler Information System at or call 511.


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