Safer Road Will Mean Travel Delays

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Complain to Dave Goddard about the long waits at the Beeline-Bush Highway intersection and you probably won't get much sympathy.

It's not that Goddard is not an empathetic man, but rather, he understands the deadly dangers that lurk at the intersection.

At about 7:30 p.m. July 24, 2005, Goddard's wife and two children were killed in a horrific collision at the junction.

Although the driver of the SUV that struck Goddard's Chevrolet Tahoe, Rigoberto Arrazola, was convicted of drunk driving and is now serving time in prison, Goodard laid some of the blame for the accident on the intersection itself.

At Arrazola's sentencing, Goddard told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon, "I do believe the intersection design is the root cause of the accident."

Goddard later lobbied to have a new bridge built to carry Bush Highway traffic over the Beeline and to construct off-ramps connecting the two highways.

On June 19, the Transportation Board agreed to allocate $18.2 million to the improvement project.

Upon learning of the board's decision, Goddard expressed his relief.

"Although nothing can ever replace the losses I have suffered, I am glad ADOT had agreed to make the road safer with a new interchange," he said.

Goddard realizes the construction will mean delays, but said he is confident the completion of the new bypass could mean no husband and father will ever be forced to suffer the agony and heartbreak that has dogged him since the accident.

Labor Day mix-up

Following the mid-summer start of road construction, there have been delays for northbound traffic on Beeline.

The biggest snafu occurred at the start of Labor Day weekend when concrete barriers limited the northbound highway to one lane.

Heat weary Valley residents heading for a cool respite in the high country found themselves white-knuckling steering wheels while locked in the midst of an 8-mile backup.

Jeanne Weatherly was one of those frustrated drivers caught in the traffic jam.

"I sat in the traffic on Beeline for three hours with an 89-year-old dad, dog and cat and prayed my car would not overheat in 115-degree weather," she said.

"There was no way for highway patrol, ambulances or tow trucks to get to (in)," she said.

Although construction was not occurring the day of the traffic jam, the barriers that cut Beeline to one lane had not been removed.

ADOT eventually sent out crews to remove the barriers, but they were unable to make much progress, because moving them required heavy machinery and closing the highway for short periods of time.

When it was learned that removing the barriers was contributing to the slowing of traffic, ADOT called off the crews.

They returned later when traffic had cleared and worked through the night, eventually opening the northbound lanes.

ADOT officials don't anticipate any similar problems occurring in the near future, but say work on the intersection will continue into late 2008. Sometimes during construction, northbound Beeline will be limited to one lane. The lane closure could last up to a year.

Check before heading north

ADOT officials say there are several ways motorists can check on road closures and for up-to-date traffic conditions.

The methods include calling the state 511 system that was launched in March 2002.

Also, information may be obtained by logging onto one of two state Web sites.

They include: http://www.dot.state.az.us/Highways/RoadClosures.asp or http://www.az511.com/RoadwayConditions/index.php.

ADOT also uses the "az511.com" as its Web site to provide relevant and useful information on travel patterns, roadway conditions, incidents, and live camera images from roadways.

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