Gila River Bridge

Interstate 10 crosses over the Gila River on a 56-year-old bridge.

PHOENIX — The Arizona House overwhelmingly passed a bill Thursday that will fund the construction of a new six-lane bridge over the Gila River on Interstate 10 between Casa Grande and Chandler.

The bill was approved by a 58-0 vote.

The bill, introduced by Rep. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, would appropriate $28 million from the state general fund in fiscal year 2020-21 to the Arizona Department of Transportation to replace and expand the Gila River bridge on a stretch of I-10 that runs across the Gila River Indian Community.

During his 2020 State of the State Address, Gov. Doug Ducey expressed his support for the bridge expansion project, noting it would pave the way for ADOT to widen nearby lanes on I-10. The new bridge would also include capacity for future expansion.

“The current 56-year-old Gila River bridge is simply inadequate to meet the needs of this major economic and transportation corridor connecting the state’s two largest metropolitan areas,” Shope said in a statement. “The new bridge is a critical step to accelerate the I-10 widening project between Phoenix and Tucson and will boost public safety and economic development in Pinal County and elsewhere along the corridor.”

Shope said the expansion of the roadway is important for the people who drive it daily, but it’s also of critical importance for interstate commerce “since in winter time it is often the only east-west thoroughfare that is not impeded by snow.”

The bridge widening is considered the first step in possibly widening I-10 in the area.

In collaboration with the Maricopa Association of Governments and the Gila River Indian Community, ADOT is studying the prospect of widening the 25-mile stretch of freeway to three lanes in each direction.