Hwy. 87 To Pine Will Be Widened

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Two non-contiguous segments of Highway 87 between mileposts 255 and 268 north of Payson will receive federal stimulus funds for a shoulder widening and resurfacing project to begin this summer.

A portion of a deadly stretch of Highway 87 between Payson and Pine will receive $8.6 million in federal stimulus funds for a shoulder widening and resurfacing project to begin this summer.

The two non-contiguous segments total 2.5 miles between mileposts 255 and 268. Those sections will also receive new guardrails, and drivers can expect turning lanes at the intersection of Bradshaw Drive and Highway 87.

Arizona Department of Transportation last week approved $350 million worth of projects statewide. Gila County will receive roughly $23 million for three projects, two in southern Gila County on Highway 60.

Maricopa County will receive $131 million, and Pima County $46 million. ADOT divided the rest among greater Arizona’s 13 other counties.

“The 41 projects are designed to put Arizonans back to work while bolstering the state’s highway system,” ADOT Public Information Officer Bill Williams wrote in an e-mail.

The agency plucked those 41 projects from 100 “ready-to-go” statewide.

Though Williams said it was difficult to say how many residents would work on the Highway 87 project, the highway stimulus will create 13,000 jobs statewide.

Eighty cents of every dollar ADOT spends returns to the private sector, according to Williams.

Other projects in Gila County include $9.5 million for asphalt improvements on Highway 60 near Miami and another $5 million in pavement on the same highway, northeast of Globe.

ADOT will advertise the Highway 87 job within two weeks and begin the six-month project this summer.

Gila County Public Works Director Steve Stratton said the Payson to Pine project was originally too far down on the priority list to receive stimulus funding. However, through bargaining with another county, the project rose to priority 17.

Forty-two collisions and two fatalities occurred on that stretch of Highway 87 in 2008.

Arizona Department of Public Safety said previously the area is difficult to patrol because the highway has no shoulders.

The chosen contractor will work with ADOT on a traffic management plan for the narrow highway during construction. Possibilities include closing one lane or limiting construction to evening hours when traffic is lighter.

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