Building a freeway is no small feat, even if it involves just adding lanes. As Pinal County residents know all too well, widening Interstate 10 between Casa Grande and Chandler is something that has been needed for a long time, something they long have been awaiting. But the wheels are slowly turning, and it will happen in a few years. This follows a cooperative arrangement between the Gila River Indian Community and the Maricopa Association of Governments that was reached last year, allowing the Arizona Department of Transportation to proceed.
A big step in the lengthy planning process occurred Wednesday with a virtual public meeting. Residents have the opportunity to submit written comments until Dec. 4. That can be done through various ways, including emailing email@example.com. The environmental study is looking at some alternatives, including doing nothing. That obviously is not an option. The main question about adding a lane to each side for the 26 miles is whether to put them in the median or the outside.
For most people, however, the details are immaterial. They merely want the additional lanes to relieve the traffic congestion. Even more than six lanes would be desirable, but that is not possible now, and there may be alternate routes available in the future.
The timeline includes drafting the study, having a public hearing a year from now and completion of the study in 2022. ADOT’s five-year plan says construction could possibly begin in 2023. That will cost tens of millions of dollars, but the project obviously is a priority beyond Pinal County and federal dollars are quite likely to flow into it in the future.
Local leaders in Pinal County, legislators and the overall community have pushed for this project for a long time. Now the stars are aligning with a cooperative spirit and the possibility of obtaining the money. As with many other things, widening I-10 is a legacy to help those who come later. But it now seems likely to be enjoyed in the not-too-distant future by many of us here now.