North-south freeway

Pinal County’s preferred route for a future north-south freeway is shown in green, while the Arizona Department of Transportation is expected to support the purple corridor.

FLORENCE — With state transportation officials preparing to announce their preferred corridor for a future north-south freeway this summer, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors voted to renew its support for a route.

The freeway, in the planning stages for many years, is to connect U.S. 60 in Apache Junction with Interstate 10 near Eloy. Pinal County officials and voters have gone on record in support of a route adjacent to Queen Creek for the freeway’s northern portion before generally following the state’s alignment in the south through the Coolidge-Florence area.

The state may favor a more easterly route in the northern section, apparently to serve the future Superstition Vistas community. Supervisor Jeff Serdy, R-Apache Junction, said the eastern route is better for his area long-term in 20 or 30 years, but the county’s route is more helpful “for what we get right now.”

The supervisors previously passed a resolution of support in 2019, but this new resolution passed Wednesday reflects the continued support of the new board, Andy Smith, Pinal County Public Works director, told the board.

Cities and towns along the way also passed resolutions of support for the county’s preferred route. Pinal County voters supported the county’s preferred corridor with their approval of a Regional Transportation Authority in 2017. The RTA, and its half-cent sales tax, is currently being challenged before the Arizona Supreme Court.

Supervisor Mike Goodman, R-San Tan Valley, said the freeway would benefit all of Pinal County, not just a part of Pinal County. The communities support the county’s alignment, but “for some reason we keep getting away from that. … We just seem to not be heard, and that’s part of the frustration here.”

Traffic issues have been building up for some time, and why the planning process has taken 18 years “is beyond me,” Goodman said. “… This stuff was discussed 30-plus years ago.” He said Wednesday’s resolution reaffirms the county’s preference. “This is where we prefer, this is what we’re requesting, this is what’s going to be beneficial to our people.”

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.