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Road-building takes a long time, as most people know from the planning to widen Interstate 10 between Casa Grande and Chandler. A brand new freeway takes even longer. However, the Arizona Department of Transportation last week finalized an environmental study for the “North-South Corridor,” which is for a planned highway from I-10 in Eloy up to U.S. 60 in Apache Junction. This road, long discussed, would go right through Coolidge and Florence and would be a huge economic factor for Pinal County, including Eloy and San Tan Valley.

Land developers have pushed for this road because it would open up a huge residential area in Pinal as the East Valley has shrinking land availability. Planning for the new roadway has gone on for years and been the subject of meetings during that time. It would get a big boost if and when a court decision frees up sales taxes already being assessed that are earmarked for Pinal road improvements.

The 55-mile route runs generally east of State Route 87. It would carry traffic from I-10 to the East Valley while avoiding a bottleneck in the Chandler-Tempe area. At the same time, a major impact on Pinal business would be felt. The plan also includes a link to the new State Route 24 in northern Pinal, which connects to Loop 202.

The next step is Tier 2 environmental and engineering studies that would narrow the current 1,500-foot-wide corridor to a 400-foot freeway alignment, along with identifying interchanges.

Pinal’s growth brings many enhancements, but it already is too much for some residents. However, it would occur with or without planning.

The study is available at azdot.gov/northsouthstudy and in hard-copy form at libraries in Eloy, Coolidge, Florence, Apache Junction and Queen Creek. Pinal County residents would do well to find out more about the North-South Corridor study, because it is likely to become a real highway.

— Donovan Kramer Jr.

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