Construction on the last segment of the four-lane divided highway between Mesa and Payson has passed the halfway point -- with one-and-a-half years completed and one year left to go on the $55.6 million project.
According to Walt Gray, a public information officer for the Arizona Department of Transportation, workers are about to remove the supports from the northbound Beeline Highway bridge at Upper Kitty Joe Canyon.
The deck for the northbound bridge already has been poured, Gray said, and piers are in place for the southbound bridge, setting the stage for work to begin on that deck.
The northbound lanes of the new alignment around Sunflower and the Sycamore Creek riparian area will open to traffic this fall. The southbound lanes will be completed in the spring of 2001.
Halfway up the new alignment -- at a point which approximately corresponds to the east of Beeline Highway mile marker 222 -- forms are now being put in place for the cast-in-place girders of the northbound bridge at Whiskey Springs.
Started in August of 1998 and scheduled for completion one year from now, the joint venture of Meadow Valley Contractors, Inc., of Phoenix and R.E. Monks Construction Co. of Fountain Hills has completed five of 10 bridges on the new Beeline alignment, with three others still under construction.
Additionally, much of the rough roadbed for the new northbound lanes has been finished. That portion of the project will be completed sometime in the fall, when the contractors apply a subgrade and pave the roadbed, Gray said.
"That will be a better road than the existing one through the Sycamore Creek area, because it will be straighter, have wider shoulders, and will just be a better, safer highway to travel on," Gray said.
Upon completion of the project in the spring of 2001, Gray said, ADOT will work with the Town of Payson and Gila County to sponsor a "major event, kind of a celebration with speakers and such, probably right there on the southbound lanes before they're open to traffic.
"The idea is to let people experience some of the new highway, similar to what we've done in Phoenix with some of the new freeways," Gray said.