September 1, 2004
Mesa officials hope to open later this week a new piece of Sossaman Road that will help relieve traffic congestion in the booming area where east Mesa, Queen Creek and Gilbert meet.
But some people who work at or near Williams Gateway Airport are getting impatient as they drive by a road that appears ready but is blocked by barricades and patrol cars.
Debbie Peacock’s machinery shop, Fabricating/ Distributor Inc., has used office space at the southeast Mesa airport since 1997, and the bulk of its work is in Queen Creek or other areas to the south, where many employees also live.
Many of them used a dirt path as a shortcut to the south until the city closed off the area early this year so Sossaman could be paved.
"When it was a dirt road we could drive on it, and it was a horrible road at that point. Now that it’s perfectly paved and has all the signage, we can’t use it," Peacock said.
The street isn’t quite as finished as it seems, and because it crosses over a railroad line before reaching Germann Road at a point just outside the city limits, Maricopa County and the Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates railroads, are also involved.
"We have three agencies and the railroad, so it’s kind of been a little more complex to get them on the same page than we thought," Mesa senior transportation engineer Mark Venti said Monday.
The county wasn’t able to send anyone to a meeting earlier Monday to approve opening the intersection, he said. If this can be accomplished at a Thursday meeting, the road could open soon afterward, Venti said.
Early this month, drivers began traveling to or from the airport or Arizona State University East on the new stretch of Sossaman, driving around barricades to avoid construction tie-ups and heavy traffic on Power Road.
Tony VanWoerkom, engineering manager at Peacock’s shop, was one of them until Aug.12 when he received a ticket from a Maricopa County sheriff’s deputy.
City engineering spokesman Glenn Gorke said contractors bear some liability for what happens on a roadway until it’s accepted into the city street system.
The Sossaman stretch is part of $5.5 million in road construction to improve airport access. The other part is an extension of Pecos Road from the east to Power, expected to open in about three weeks, Gorke said.