Construction will begin this month to widen a segment of Ellsworth Road that's a critical link between Queen Creek and Pinal County.
The $18.8 million project will transform the two-lane Ellsworth Road into a six-lane road with a raised median, from Cloud Road to about a quarter-mile south of Empire Boulevard.
Maricopa County Supervisor Fulton Brock said that while the economic slump also slowed traffic growth in the area, a massive influx of new residents will eventually rely on Ellsworth to get to their jobs.
"We know that Pinal County will be a great area of growth and most of the employment will be in Maricopa County," Brock said.
The former General Motors Proving Grounds, the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and the proposed Gaylord mega resort will make Ellsworth even busier as new employers open their doors, he said.
Ellsworth is projected to have 42,000 cars a day on it in 2026. A 2006 traffic count found it had 18,500 vehicles a day on the section that is being widened.
The road project includes better drainage to ensure Ellsworth is drivable during heavy rains, he said.
"Sometimes when we get a really good belly washer out there, the water will come over the road," Brock said.
The work is tentatively set to begin Aug. 23 but it could take another week before drivers notice, said Roberta Crowe, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Department of Transportation. Most activity is expected between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Drivers should anticipate some delays until the project is completed in February.
The project costs include construction, design, right-of-way, sewer and water lines, paid for by Queen Creek, McDOT and Pinal County.