Q: What's up with the Beeline work? What are they doing? How long will it take? What interruptions can we expect? And, most important, why now at the peak of the tourist season?

A: There are two reasons for the timing of the project.

One, it just happens to be when the bid was awarded, and two, there is a small window in the summer when you can do the type of paving that is involved.

Dave Gerlach, transportation engineering specialist for the Arizona Department of Transportation, who is project superintendent, says a half-inch of rubberized asphalt will be laid on Highway 87 from the casino all the way to Pine.

Arizona is one of the biggest users of the material, which contains 10 to 20 percent rubber from ground-up tires. It works very well in wide temperature ranges because it actually moves and it will give the Beeline "an extremely smooth ride."

But there's $1.2 million worth of preliminary work to be done first, and that's what's going on now. New sidewalks are also being added in some places, and some roadway widening is under way. "When we're done there will be sidewalk all the way to Houston Mesa Road," Gerlach said.

Prep work will continue during daytime hours, but once the paving machines move in, the work will be done between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., Gerlach said.

When will it all be completed? The stretch between Payson and Pine by Sept. 15, the stretch through Payson by Oct. 15. But Gerlach is hopeful it will all be done by Sept. 15.

The construction warning signs on side streets approaching the Beeline are not as permanent as they look, Gerlach said. "With so many tourists unfamiliar with the roads in the first place, we're just trying to give motorists as much warning as we can. Those signs will come down when the project is complete."

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