The Control Road, between Highway 87 and 260, will sport seven new bridges by the spring.
“The new bridges will be wider and have a higher capacity,” said Joel Mona of the Federal Highway Administration, Central Federal Lands Highway Division (CFLHD).
Construction started this past June and should end by March of 2012.
Six of the seven bridges will be demolished and rebuilt. Only the Webber Creek Bridge will move to a new location upstream from the old bridge. Demolishing the bridges is more economical than retrofitting, said Mona.
The county hopes to procure federal funding to pave the road in the next few years.
“We want to increase the safety of the communities in case of evacuation,” said Supervisor Tommie Martin.
The communities of Geronimo Estates, Verde Glen, Whispering Pines, Bonita Creek Estates, Ellison Estates, and Tonto Village will benefit from the road and bridge improvements.
Because the Control Road sits on federal land, CFLHD has the responsibility to fund, design, and construct the upgrades on the road.
“There are three roads in Gila County that sit on federal land,” said Steve Stratton, public works director for Gila County. Control Road is one of them.
According to the Central Federal Lands Highway agency, CFLHD functions as a division of the Federal Lands Highway Program. The organization surveys, designs and constructs forest highway system roads, defense access roads and other federal land roads.
The CFLHD also administers the Emergency Relief for Federally Owned roads (ERFO) program. In the event of a natural disaster, the agency will replace the roads under their responsibility.
The primary goal of the Control Road project involves increasing the width of the bridges to 25 feet and widening the roads leading up to the bridges to accommodate their new width. Twenty-five feet should allow for two cars to pass, said Mona.
Construction will continue through the winter, weather permitting, said Mona.
In an e-mail update on the agency’s progress to the Gila board of supervisors, Mona described the upgrades to each bridge:
Webber Creek: drilling and installation of pilings for new bridge complete.
Bonita Creek: set slabs of concrete for the deck of the bridge.
Perley Creek: deck slabs have been set and a culvert installed east of the bridge.
Moore Creek: framework and reinforced steel have been installed.
Lewis Creek: drilling for bridge pilings complete.
Ellison Creek: pilings placed, formwork construction has begun.
Roberts Draw: drilling of all pilings complete.