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Buckeye presentation features I-10 projects

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Buckeye City Council’s Tuesday workshop will include a presentation on the project many people have thought about when driving across the city this past year.

The presentation, set for 4:30 p.m. at Buckeye City Hall, 530 Monroe Ave., will discuss the main elements of the Interstate 10 widening project through Buckeye. The stretch from Verrado Way to State Route 85 has been underway since last summer, but the really disruptive work is set to begin as early as this month.

The widening will include complete rebuilds of the Watson Road and Miller Road connections to the freeway, with both set to be converted into “Divergent diamond” interchanges.

Work on the Miller Road interchange is set to begin with 40-day closures of both the I-10 eastbound on-ramp and westbound off-ramp in late January. That will be followed by 40-day closures of both the I-10 eastbound off-ramp and westbound on-ramp at Miller Road.

A third phase of interchange construction involves closing Miller Road completely, at I-10, for about 50 days. This is set to begin in the late spring of this year.

The Miller Road interchange will be rebuilt first. Work on the Watson Road divergent diamond interchange is set to begin this summer with a 50-day closure of Watson Road in early 2023.

A divergent diamond is a new design for places where surface streets intersect freeways or expressways. Traffic on a surface street essentially swaps sides from the usual American “drive on the right” tradition.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are 129 divergent diamonds in the U.S. The Watson and Miller interchanges will be among seven under construction this year.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, advantages of the divergent diamond include no cars turning in front of each other and no attempts to “make the arrow,” as there are no right- or left-turn arrows in the design.

There is not even a need for a vehicle to right on a red light.
Drivers must not only slow down around a curve and watch for a yellow or red light, but also are positioned to see traffic coming in front of their path, rather than from a 90-degree angle.

All traffic at one of the two signals is headed straight ahead; all traffic turning onto or off of the freeway turns first, encounters a signal later.

While there is more effort needed by both surface-street cars and those on ramps to effectively merge and follow speed and other traffic controls, the design is hailed as more efficient by ADOT officials.

Work that began last summer has focused mainly on paving and temporarily has reduced the number of available lanes along I-10. That work has focused on making I-10 at least three lanes wide from Loop 303 to State Route 85.

There will continue to be intermittent lane closures, especially at night, and occasional complete stops of traffic to move construction equipment. Drivers in the area should be prepared to slow down and/or stop completely at a moment’s notice.

Crews also will construct new drainage facilities, storm drains, catch basins and sound walls and will install a freeway management system.

The $82 million widening project also will include laying of about 14 miles of fiber optic cable to help make the stretch of I-10 one of Arizona’s “smart highways.”

ADOT officials say divergent interchanges can reduce the number and severity of crashes compared to traditional diamond interchanges, while reducing traffic congestion.

The design also provides an opportunity to integrate multimodal facilities for pedestrians, cyclists and transit into the interchange, the agency says, and will help with anticipated future growth by getting more vehicles through each intersection more efficiently.

ADOT will provide some advance notice about specific lane restrictions or closures as those become available.

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