“I’ve been there, I know the way.” — R.E.M.
For Valley residents whose lives are affected by transportation — that is, all of us — these are interesting times. How so?
• Metro light-rail service begins in a matter of months. For a region seemingly addicted to asphalt, this is a dramatic development. Will this $1.4-billion project succeed in getting commuters to their jobs and cars off the roads?
• Speaking of those highways, the final miles of Loop 202 in east Mesa soon will be complete. That will end a flurry of freeway construction that began more than 20 years ago. (Old-timers, now is a good moment to blow newcomers’ minds with horror stories about where in the West Valley Interstate 10 once stopped — as in freeway exits into farm fields.)
• Finally, the price of gas shows no sign of stopping its budget-busting climb, or even leveling off. The force of simple supply-and-demand economics is wreaking havoc with family finances and home prices. Yet it could also be the biggest boost to light rail’s success.
As you may have noticed atop this story, this column has a new writer.
With Garin Groff driving into the sunset (Gilbert, actually), I’m taking over the transportation/transit beat.
I am experienced in these matters; while working for The Associated Press in Florida, I covered the state’s abortive attempt at establishing a high-speed rail network. Voters loved it in 2000, but four years later hated it — and both times probably got caught in traffic jams on their way home from the polls.
As the go-to guy for getting there (wherever “there” may be) I’ll keep you updated about developments on our highways and byways. If you have a tip, contact me via e-mail or at the Tribune’s transportation tip line: (480) 898-6411.
In return, I’ll pass along some tips of my own. (For example, www.az511.com/RoadwayConditions is a great site to check before any freeway travels.)
And so our journey begins. See you on the road ...
POWER-PECOS CROSSING WILL GROW SMOOTHER
Work continues on the a joint project to realign the intersection of Power and Pecos roads, along the border between Mesa and Gilbert.
For now, drivers are restricted to one lane in each direction. And it will stay that way for at least a year to 18 months.
But when completed, both roads will have three lanes in each direction as well as double turn lanes.
And the nearby railroad tracks, which have run along Rittenhouse Road, will run diagonally through the Power and Pecos intersection.
"And the traffic signals will be set so that when the train comes, it will be all red lights," said Gilbert spokesman Garin Groff.
Officials hope the expanded intersection also will relieve some nearby trouble spots as well.
"There can be some pretty long back ups on Power now," Groff said.
The major work for the $7.8 million project will be starting soon, officials said.
"The bulk of the work should be done by December," Groff said. "But some minor stuff could continue through February."
CLOSURES & RESTRICTIONS
Eastbound Guadalupe Road from McQueen to Cooper roads will have significant lane restrictions.
Eastbound Williams Field Road from Lindsay Road to Val Vista Drive will have significant lane restrictions.
Northbound Lindsay at Williams Field will have significant lane restrictions.
Eastbound Ocotillo Road from Val Vista to Greenfield Road will have significant lane restrictions.
Eastbound Germann Road from Gilbert to Lindsay roads will have significant lane restrictions.
All four directions of the intersection of Queen Creek and Lindsay roads will have significant lane restrictions.
Ongoing road work to repair a sinkhole near Val Vista and Ocotillo Road is expected to be completed by the end of this week. Gilbert officials said Friday that work was delayed because of rain.
Queen Creek Road is closed from Arizona Avenue to McQueen Road through Sept. 28 while crews widen the road to six lanes.
Queen Creek Road between Crismon and Signal Butte roads remains closed while crews continue work on the Gilbert CAP water line.
Crews will be working on street improvements in the area of Chandler Heights and Hawes roads.