PHOENIX – The Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway is open to traffic, providing a much needed alternative to Interstate 10 through downtown Phoenix while improving the quality of life in a fast-growing region.
The freeway opened Saturday, Dec. 21, three days after a grand opening ceremony that featured Governor Doug Ducey, Arizona Department of Transportation Director John Halikowski and other Valley leaders.
Using an innovative public-private partnership for the state’s largest-ever highway project, ADOT was able to open the 22-mile freeway three years earlier than if it had been built as a series of traditional projects. The agreement also allowed ADOT to deliver the $1.7 billion South Mountain Freeway at a cost savings of more than $100 million.
“Arizona has solidified its reputation as a state that is open for opportunity, and as we welcome hundreds of new residents every day, we are making sure our infrastructure remains some of the best in America,” Governor Ducey said. “This Loop 202 opening represents a big step forward in connecting the East and West Valleys, as well as prioritizing safety for drivers. My thanks to the local, state, tribal, federal and private partners who helped bring this project to fruition ahead of schedule with major cost savings.”
Completing the Loop 101 and Loop 202 system, the South Mountain Freeway travels between Interstate 10 at the Loop 202 Santan Freeway in the East Valley and I-10 at 59th Avenue in the West Valley. It is projected to carry about 117,000 vehicles per day within its first year and as many as 190,000 vehicles per day by 2035.
It’s Arizona’s first highway project built using a public-private partnership, which combined design, construction and maintenance in a single contract. Connect 202 Partners, the developer chosen for the project, will maintain the South Mountain Freeway for the next 30 years under the agreement.
“This freeway is open on an ambitious timeline because of the innovation, creativity and dedication of our teams at ADOT and at Connect 202 Partners,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “This monumental achievement will benefit Arizonans for decades to come.”
While the freeway is open to traffic, work will continue into 2020 in several areas, including a traffic interchange at 32nd Street, a 6-mile multi-use path between 40th Street and 17th Avenue in Ahwatukee and landscaping. The 32nd Street interchange was added after the initial design at the request of area residents.
Connect 202 Partners, consisting of Fluor Enterprises Inc., Granite Construction Co. and Ames Construction Inc., with Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc. as the lead designer, completed more than 5.5 million hours of work without an incident causing lost time while using more than 120 subcontractors and suppliers.
“Working in partnership with ADOT over the last three and half years, we have achieved our goal of providing Arizona with a safe, innovative, cost-effective and much needed freeway that will help alleviate traffic congestion, stimulate the economy and improve the safety and operational efficiency for drivers throughout the Phoenix-metro area,” said Walter J. Lewis, III, senior project director for Fluor and Connect 202 Partners.
Among the freeway’s 15 interchanges are Arizona’s first two using a diverging diamond configuration that promotes traffic flow and safety. The freeway’s 40 bridges include two half-mile spans over the Salt River that have the longest concrete bridge girders – 175 feet – ever used in Arizona.
It features three travel lanes and an HOV lane in each direction.
As with any new highway, ADOT will continue working with nearby residents to examine any concerns related to noise or lighting.
Signs at each end of the South Mountain Freeway honor the late Arizona Congessman Ed Pastor, carrying a designation approved this fall by the Arizona State Board on Geographic and Historic Names.
The South Mountain Freeway has long been part of the region’s transportation plans. Maricopa County voters approved it in 1985 and again in 2004 as part of the Maricopa Association of Governments’ Regional Transportation Plan.
For information on the project and to sign up for project updates, please visit SouthMountainFreeway.com. For additional current and planned construction information, click on the Construction Info tab.