Take a spin east, west, north or south in Gilbert, and you’re all but certain to arrive at the same place — a massive construction zone.
The town is widening a halfdozen sections of major roads this summer, and drivers will have to put up with the hassles for as long as a year on some projects.
The rebuilt — and in some cases realigned — roads are essential for the opening of Loop 202 near the end of 2005. The freeway will cut through areas mostly served by twolane country roads. Loop 202 will change traffic patterns and require roads with four to six lanes.
The epicenter of the work is the intersection of Greenfield and Ray roads. Crews are digging massive holes more than 30 feet deep for depressed road sections and supports of overpasses where roads or a railroad will pass over Loop 202.
That intersection has garnered a fair amount of interest from drivers who have spotted a construction yard with large concrete panels that sport train designs.
"The contractor says people stop by and take pictures all the time," said Tami Ryall, an assistant town manager.
The panels soon will line Greenfield Road where it passes under a new railroad bridge.
The Arizona Department of Transportation is paying for some work related to the future freeway, but most of the roadwork in Gilbert is financed by an $80 million bond that voters approved in May 2003. The bond finances the largest group of road construction projects in Gilbert’s history.
The construction is causing some delays as drivers navigate sharp curves or enter areas with lower speed limits.
Drivers will see more construction by the end of this year when ADOT will award a contract to start building the freeway in Gilbert. The freeway construction won’t be as disruptive as the current road projects because much of this summer’s work is designed to ease future projects.
Those projects include constructing several freeway bridges now — well before the actual freeway work begins, ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel said.