About 35 people showed up Wednesday evening to hear an update by the Arizona Department of Transportation on the projects on State Route 89-A and State Route 260. ADOT held an open house in the Clark Memorial Clubhouse in Clarkdale.
Most of the presentation was dedicated to the section of 89-A between Black Hills Drive and Cement Plant Road. That 2.1 mile section of highway will be upgraded to four lanes and contain five roundabouts. It began in February, is on schedule so far, and will be completed in April 2009.
ADOT project engineer Tom Ward said roundabouts reduce vehicle crashes by 75 percent and reduce injury accidents by 95 percent compared to stoplight intersections.
Ward said the roundabouts will have pedestrian lighting and yield signs only, no traffic lights. The four-lane highway will be divided by an 8-foot wide raised median, allowing emergency vehicles to cross the median when necessary.
Mike Sick, project manager for S.J. Louis, the contractor doing the work on 89A, said utility relocation is now underway. "Right now, you're seeing very little progress because the work is mostly underground." But that will change in about six weeks.
Sick said the roundabouts will be constructed one after the other rather than doing them all together. The first will be at Cement Plant Road. "That will take about six weeks to do," Sick said. "The other four roundabouts will take about one week each."
He explained that when work is being done on the roundabouts crews will work round the clock.
Ward said speed limits in the roundabouts will be between 15-20 mph, with speed limits between the roundabouts being between 45-55 mph. He said motorists entering a roundabout must yield to traffic in the inside lane, then move to the outside lane to exit.
Crosswalks with safety zone islands will help pedestrians cross the roadway.
A truck apron is designed into the roundabouts so that large trucks can move safely through them.
Ward said that in addition to reducing accidents, roundabouts also reduce noise, air pollution, fuel consumption and the number and duration of stops.
"Once you get used to them, people find they like them," Ward said. "You'll like this type of intersection better, once you get used to it."
Ward also gave a brief update on the work now underway on State Route 260 between Western Drive and Thousand Trails. The project, which began in February, will turn the two-mile stretch into a four-lane highway. Two new bridges will be constructed before the project is completed in February 2009.
So far, crews have cleared brush, and are now removing culverts and excavating areas near bridges.
The contractor for the $14 million project is Ames Construction.
A timeline for the project calls for the Black Canyon Wash Bridge to be done in July.
The new traffic signal at Western Drive should be done by September, and the Wilbur Canyon Bridge is expected to be completed by November. In January 2009 traffic will shift onto the new westbound road, and the project will be complete a month later.