QUEEN CREEK — On Monday, Pinal County motorists will have access to a new east-west connector to Interstate 10 through the southeast area of Queen Creek.
The Riggs Road extension, which serves as a road of regional significance, will officially open. The extension from Ellsworth Road to Meridian Road is a two-phase process with construction and costs being split between the Maricopa County Department of Transportation and the town of Queen Creek. MCDOT completed the first phase from Ellsworth Road to Crismon Road. The second phase, being led by the town, is anticipated to be complete in August. Motorists can also continue west on Riggs Road as it is fully improved west of Ellsworth Road, connecting to Gilbert and eventually I-10, according to a press release from the town.
While Riggs Road is complete from the new Rittenhouse intersection to the west, improvements to Combs Road east of Rittenhouse still need to be completed. This section includes the widening of the road at the railroad crossing and Union Pacific improvements. Combs Road will be closed from Monday until July 8.
“We understand this closure provides a major inconvenience, but it is necessary for the safety of the workers and our motorists,” Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney said in a statement. “I would like to thank our residents and visitors for their patience. As a resident myself, I understand road construction is frustrating, but it is a necessary part of improving our transportation system.”
Barney also highlighted the coordination and partnerships that made the project possible, from MCDOT and Pinal County to right-of-way acquisitions from a number of property owners. The Gila Indian River Community helped to ensure the historical village R.C. Riggs located at the site was properly preserved and the railroad is conducting the improvements at the railroad crossing, the press release stated.
“Transportation continues to be a priority with $240 million dedicated to infrastructure in the fiscal year 2019-20 budget, with $122 million specifically earmarked for road improvements,” stated Town Manager John Kross. “Riggs is an important milestone, touching on all areas of our corporate strategic plan. From new lane miles, safety enhancements and reduced commute times, Riggs Road is also improving regional connectivity.”
The Riggs Road extension includes one lane in each direction, bike lanes, curb, a sidewalk on the north and a realigned intersection at Rittenhouse. The roadway will be expanded to six lanes as development occurs in the area, with the new developments paying for the expansion.
Town officials said Riggs Road will provide an important alternate route during the Rittenhouse Road improvements. Widening Rittenhouse Road, south of Ocotillo Road, requires expanding the bridge at the Queen Creek Wash to four lanes, and improving the bridge requires a complete closure of Rittenhouse Road. The project is currently being designed and will begin construction once the Riggs Road extension is complete.