Construction Project Could Keep More Lives From Being Lost At Dangerous Intersection

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Dave Goddard has new hope that no father and husband will ever suffer the agony and heartbreak he did July 24, 2005.

It was about 7:30 p.m. that evening that the Payson man's wife and two children were killed in a collision at the intersection of the Bush and Beeline highways.

"Although nothing can never replace the losses I have suffered, I am glad ADOT (Arizona Department of Transportation) has agreed to make the road safer with a new interchange (at Bush and Beeline)," he said.

Almost since the day of the deadly accident, Goddard has vigorously campaigned for the state to build a bridge at the intersection and eliminate the stop sign that now exists.

At the sentencing of Rigoberto Arrazola, the driver convicted of drunk driving and manslaughter in the deaths of Goddard's wife and children, the Payson man told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon, "I do believe the intersection design is the root cause of the accident."

The ADOT Transportation Board finally agreed June 19 to allocate $18.2 million to build a new bridge to carry Bush Highway traffic over the Beeline. Also, off-ramps connecting the two highways will be built and a 10-foot shoulder added to the right and a four-foot shoulder to the left of northbound Beeline lanes.

The improvements will begin north of the Fort McDowell Indian Reservation (milepost 194) and continue to the Four Peaks Road turnoff (milepost 204).

Following the decision to allocate the money for the road improvements, the Transportation Board wrote in a press release, "The improved ‘grade-separated' interchange is designed to create safer traffic conditions at the junction of the two highways."

Goddard said his wife and children would probably still be alive, had the improvements been made years ago, but he took some satisfaction in knowing state officials finally realized the intersection was deadly.

At Arrazola's sentencing, Goddard detailed two other deadly accidents at the scene and, as a frequent driver on the Beeline, said he had "three close calls of people pulling out in front of me."

In September 2005, Payson physician Alan Michels and his wife, Margaret, were injured when their vehicle was hit at the intersection, after a vehicle exiting from Bush Highway failed to yield at a stop sign.

Michels later called for a change at the intersection in a Sept. 16, 2005 Letter to the Editor in the Roundup.

He wrote, "The vehicles, some towing recreational equipment, and traffic patterns no longer support such an intersection.

"I submit that an overpass with better, longer merging lanes be considered. We all have too much we care about to allow this to go unchanged."

In February 2006, 76-year-old Rocco Fantetti of British Columbia was killed after running a stop sign at the intersection of the Bush-Beeline highways. Mark Kile of Payson was unable to stop his truck, which collided with Fantetti's vehicle as it entered traffic. Kile was not cited.

The contract for the Bush/Beeline project has been awarded to Coffman Specialties of San Diego, Calif. Work is expected to begin in August and take approximately 16 months to complete.

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