State officials are seeking public input on plans to possibly expand the section of Interstate 10 which runs adjacent to Chandler.
The Arizona Department of Transportation is partnering with the Gila River Indian Community to host a meeting on Thursday, Sept. 19, in Sacaton, where attendees can offer their opinion regarding the freeway.
This portion of I-10 running between Phoenix and Casa Grande has earned a notorious reputation for routinely becoming congested with traffic and the site of numerous collisions.
This 26-mile stretch of freeway is the only part of I-10, which passes through Tucson and Phoenix, that has not yet expanded from two lanes to three in each direction, ADOT said.
ADOT announced last year it was working with GRIC on a study to examine the feasibility of widening I-10.
The purpose of Thursday’s meeting is to deliver an overview of the I-10 study and gather feedback on concerns related to the study area.
Because the freeway runs through tribal land, GRIC would have to be involved with any plans to improve I-10.
The tribe has previously taken ADOT to court over disputes with expanding the Loop 202 freeway. A federal judge ruled against GRIC, allowing the state to proceed with its $1.7-billion project.
Years ago, the tribal community rejected a chance to have the South Mountain Freeway corridor built on reservation land/
If the tribe and ADOT manage to work out a more agreeable deal regarding I-10, the state must still find a way to pay for it.
ADOT says it has already allocated $50 million in improvements to I-10 for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2023, but expansion will likely cost significantly more.
Widening just four miles of I-10 between Eloy and Picacho recently cost ADOT about $72 million.
The Maricopa Association of Governments has reserved $112 million in funds collected through a half-cent sales tax to improve the part of I-10 running through Maricopa County.
Before launching its study last year, the state made attempts to make I-10 more enjoyable for motorists. ADOT designated it a “safety corridor” in 2016, which increased law enforcement presence around Chandler and Casa Grande.
Despite these efforts, elected officials have routinely called out ADOT to make I-10 a greater priority.
Casa Grande Mayor Craig McFarland has repeatedly called I-10 “dangerous” and often advocates for it to expand.
The Pinal County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution last year, demanding ADOT identify ways to make the freeway safer. Nearly 5,000 crashes were reported on the section of I-10 running through Pinal County between 2007 and 2016.
The ADOT study will also explore the options of expanding the freeway’s highway occupancy vehicle lane or not building anything at all. It’s not expected to be done until August 2020.