Party planned for Red Mountain Freeway opening - East Valley Tribune: News

Party planned for Red Mountain Freeway opening

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Posted: Saturday, July 12, 2008 7:58 pm | Updated: 8:43 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

A 5K Fun Run. In July. On the sizzling pavement of Loop 202. Doesn't sound so fun, does it?

Parts of Red Mountain Freeway closed next week

Well, it's part of the Roundin' Out the Red Mountain festivities, presented by the Arizona Department of Transportation and Mesa on Tuesday to celebrate the completion of the Red Mountain Freeway stretch of Loop 202.

Party time on Loop 202: The public is invited Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. to celebrate the soon-to-open final stretch of the Red Mountain Freeway. Final section of Loop 202 opens week of July 21. Graphic by Scott Kirchhofer/EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE, SOURCE: ADOT, Parking access on southbound lanes will be open at 4 p.m. Thomas Rd., McDowell Rd., McKellips Rd., Brown Rd., Main St., University Dr., Crismon Rd., Ellsworth Rd., Hawes Rd., Sossaman Rd., Recker Rd., Power Rd., Loop 202, U.S. 60, Loop 101, Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Queen Creek, Tempe, Apache Junction

The event caps off more than 20 years of work - since a half-cent sales tax to fund construction of both Loop 202 and Loop 101 was approved in 1985 - and will take place on the final, nearly five-mile stretch between Power Road and University Drive.

And despite the heat (it's forecast to be over 100 degrees in Mesa that day) ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel says it should still be a fun time.

"We've certainly put a lot of thought to the fact that we expect it to be rather warm out," says Nintzel. "We will have several water stations along the area that will be open to the public, and we've had donations of more than 20,000 bottles of water."

Nintzel encourages people to dress appropriately for the weather - hats, sunglasses, comfortable shoes - but not to be discouraged, as precautions are being taken.

"The Mesa Fire Department's going to be on hand," he says. "We'll have a paramedic station, but we're certainly hoping that they won't get a lot of business."

People are strongly encouraged to keep their pets at home during the celebration, due to the high likelihood of paws being burned on the pavement.

These celebrations have occurred periodically when areas have been completed, giving members of the community a unique opportunity to walk around and have fun on the freeway itself before it's opened to traffic.

There will be about 70 exhibitors, mainly community groups and businesses. Other events include a 5K bike ride, the Hoops on the Loop hula hoop contest and exhibits from Mesa departments. Gov. Janet Napolitano will preside over the opening ceremony at 6 p.m.

If you're wondering how these parties work logistically, two entrances will be set up on the southbound on-ramps at McDowell Road and Brown Road. Parking will be on the southbound freeway lanes, and the event will take place on the northbound lanes.

ADOT is looking at the morning of July 21 as the freeway opening date.

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