It's time to plan for summer escapes to pine country - and also to think where you'll pull over when nature calls.
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Should that happen on Interstate 17, remember that the Sunset Point rest stop is closed while it's being rebuilt. A reader asked where else she can stop while it's closed.
There's no other official rest stop in the immediate area. But Bill Williams of the Arizona Department of Transportation suggested stopping at the various businesses sprinkled between Black Canyon City and Cordes Junction.
Several restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores provide suitable alternatives, Williams said.
ADOT closed the rest stop late last year to expand and rebuild the aging spot that features an incredible overlook of the Bradshaw Mountains. It's set to reopen late this year.
Before ADOT closed it, agency officials bought cases of toilet paper and distributed them with informational fliers to businesses in the area to warn of an influx of visitors.
Merchants found it a bit funny, but also have come to welcome the new visitors, Williams said. He said he travels the highway often and stops at the businesses, whose owners have largely welcomed the project.
"In some respect, it's provided more business," he said.
STRETCH OF 202 SLATED TO OPEN IN SUMMER
It looks like a piece of the Loop 202 Red Mountain Freeway that's under construction should be ready to open now, a reader says.
The piece from University Drive to Brown Road appears ready for drivers. So why isn't it open?
Workers still have to finish some features that may not seem obvious, ADOT spokeswoman Laura Douglas said. The concrete surface still needs to be covered with rubberized asphalt. Workers also need to install lane stripes and signs and make final inspections.
ADOT plans to open the last piece of the Red Mountain Freeway, from University Drive to Power Road, in the next several months. The target has long been set for the summer.
"We don't have a specific date yet," Douglas said. "Summer is really our best estimate right now."
GROUP LABELS GILBERT 'BICYCLE FRIENDLY'
The League of American Bicyclists, a group of 300,000 affiliated cyclists, has labeled Gilbert a "bicycle friendly community."
Gilbert was listed as a bronze-level community along with cities such as Albuquerque, N.M., and Charlotte, N.C. Tucson and east Pima County were given the "gold" designation by the organization.
In Gilbert's application for the award, the town touted 1,200 miles of bike lanes - nearly double the 662 miles the town has for motor vehicles. And all of Gilbert's major arterial streets have bike lanes.
Gilbert gives out free bicycle helmets to children at various events throughout the year and kids can win prizes if a fire inspector sees them wearing the helmet while riding their bikes, according to the town's application.
Gilbert officials say a bicyclist could start riding at one corner of town and ride in any direction without leaving a designated trail.
"Our Bicycle Friendly Communities display uncommon political commitment, technical expertise, and community involvement to become better places to bicycle," Elissa Margolin, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists, said in a release sent out last week. "The rewards for residents are huge: reduced traffic, better air quality, increased travel choices, and greater opportunities to lead more active lifestyles."
CLOSURES & RESTRICTIONS
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 Ellsworth and Crismon roads will be restricted as crews continue work on a Gilbert CAP waterline. Traffic control devices will be rearranged at the intersection of Queen Creek and Crismon roads on Monday.
Queen Creek Road, between Crismon and Signal Butte roads will be closed for 30 days beginning Tuesday.
Expect delays on Sossaman Road south of Rittenhouse Road and on Germann Road between 188th Street and Sossaman Road as construction continues in those areas.