Where will I-17 ramps go?

Editor:

Thank you for the kind words about the residents of the Beaver Creek region and for recognizing that many of us are trying to find common goals and workable compromises.

But alas, your last paragraph about the reconstruction of the I-17 interchange at McGuireville is not accurate. The interchange is neither scheduled nor funded for reconstruction. In fact, ADOT has requested that Lima & Associates study the feasibility of rebuilding the exit at a site to the north of its present location that would better align Beaver Creek Road with Cornville Road. When the McGuireville Interchange was not reconstructed in 2005 using the planned diamond-pattern ramping at the current location, our residents were again placed in limbo.

No one can say for sure where the TI or its ramps will end up. Thus businesses are unwilling to invest in building in our current interchange area. It is very difficult for commercial projects such as a bank, pharmacy, or small movie theater to invest in a location where they might end up with a freeway ramp in their midst. And we continue to be uncertain about the one-lane tunnel access that Bice Road uses under I-17. Will this tunnel be widened with either placement of the interchange or done separately, and when?

Beaver Creek Regional Council President Fred Shute has requested that the transportation committee write a statement to be approved by BCRC board members for inclusion in the new Verde Valley Multi-Modal Transportation Plan. He wants to see a location and land needed for right-of-way for the McGuireville TI specified soon so that families and businesses can make decisions about their futures. He wants to see committed funding and scheduling for widening the Bice Road tunnel. We all want solutions to these old issues.

The safety improvements for the current interchange are still scheduled to go out to bid in late spring and to be completed this fiscal year. Four projects with three different fund sources have been combined. The total package now includes the $6 million lengthening and widening of the four ramps, a pavement preservation package from our interchange to the General Crook Interchange, increasing the turning radius at the NE corner of the McGuireville Interchange to minimize guardrail damage caused by southbound truck traffic, safety improvements to the curve between mileposts 289.3 and 289.92, fixing the damaged westbound cattle ramp in Beaver Hollow and finishing the striping and lighting on the Middle Verde roundabout. When the project design is completed, there will be a public presentation. In addition, several months ago ADOT engineers determined that the bridge decking also needs to be replaced and this will be done at the same time as the other improvements.

We are very grateful that ADOT and the State Board of Transportation answered our pleas to improve the safety of the existing interchange when the reconstruction was canceled and the funding for it shifted elsewhere. But we are left in limbo since we do not know the specific location for the future reconstruction.

Janet Aniol, Transportation Committee Chair

Beaver Creek Regional Council

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