A year from now, the road to Payson from Phoenix will be a four-lane divided highway, including the $56.5 million section of roadway that redirects the highway around Sunflower.
The rumored highway bypass around Payson, however, is just that a rumor, Arizona Department of Transportation officials said.
According to resident engineer Myron Robison, from ADOT's Payson District, the Sunflower section of the Highway 87 project is the final phase of the Beeline Highway realignment, and will be completed by early spring next year.
"At this junction, we're waiting to get the bridges completed," Robison said Thursday. "There are 10 bridges total on the Sunflower bypass five sets of two. We've got eight of them pretty much completed, and the last two are now in construction.
"Less than a year from now, we'll be driving on both sides of the highway."
Once the highway is completed, ADOT will remove the asphalt from the old abandoned highway, add soil, reseed and return the area back to its natural vegetation.
As for talk of a bypass that would allow motorists to go from the Beeline to Highway 260 without going through Payson, Robison said that at this point, it's still just a rumor.
"We've heard talk about it, but to the best of my knowledge, no one has initiated a study or anything yet," he said.
Other projects on ADOT's books include:
Highway widening project on SR 188, east of Jakes Corner. "We've just awarded that contract to R.E. Monks to widen the two-lane road, and add shoulders," Robison said. The four-mile project is expected to cost $6.5 million.
Pavement preservation projects on Highway 87 south of Payson: "We do just an overlay of the existing roadway with new asphalt," he said. The project entails repaving 10 miles of the highway on the north and southbound lanes. Bids on that project will be opened June 23.
Preacher Canyon: On Highway 260, bids will be opened June 30 to award the contract for widening the road to a four-lane divided highway. "We should start seeing some activity there around August," Robison said. "Ultimately, the Highway 260 improvements will result in a four-lane divided highway all the way to Heber." The 3.1-mile project is expected to cost $28 million, and should be completed within 560 working days from the start of the project.
Christopher Creek: "From there, we move east to the Christopher Creek area," he said. "That widening project is set for advertisement of bids in February of '02, but we're trying to push that time frame up."
Kohl's Ranch: Another widening project on Highway 260, set for advertisement of bids in December '02.
Connector projects: The final two projects on the Highway 260 project include the Little Green Valley widening, which connects Preacher Canyon to Kohl's Ranch, and the Doubtful Canyon widening, which links Kohl's Ranch to Christopher Creek.
Once those projects are completed, the only section of Highway 260 that will remain two lanes is around Lion Springs Road, east of Payson. Robison said that project is not yet on ADOT's five-year construction plan.